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There are many ways you can help spread the word about human trafficking and to support the professionals in the field. Community groups and professionals are working together, for example, in creating the Project on Human Trafficking at Floria Gulf Coast University. The Zonta Club of Melbourne, FL, arranged a Regional Community Policing Institute Class in their community. Here is an article about their successful efforts:
The Many Faces of Human Trafficking and The Zonta Club of Melbourne
by Deputy Chief Robert A. Schwartz, M.S. (Ret.)
On Saturday, March 3, 2007, a four-hour course on Human Trafficking was provided by the Florida Regional Community Policing Institute (RCPI) at St. Petersburg College to the Zonta Club of Melbourne, Florida. The four-hour course has been designed specifically to acquaint members of a community with the concepts of Human Trafficking, i.e. its origins, methods of operation, telltale indicators, and with special emphasis on understanding the victimization process which is unique to this horrendous crime. The goal of the course is to develop and foster an understanding of the need for the community to become involved in the fight against Human Trafficking. The two instructors for the course were Executive Director Nola Theiss of the Human Trafficking Awareness Partnerships, Inc., and Deputy Chief Robert A. Schwartz, M.S. (Ret.) of the Atlantic City P.D., who having retired is now an instructor with the RCPI.
The four-hour course is provided at no cost for the instruction and the materials. In addition, even though the four-hour course is specifically designed for community members, all law enforcement personnel and all non-governmental organizational service providers are also welcomed and encouraged to attend and participate. There is also an eight-hour course that is available and has been designed specifically for law enforcement personnel and non-governmental organizational service providers, which is provided for free and will be addressed in a future article.
Zonta is an international service organization, whose primary mission is to improve the status of women worldwide. Its mission is achieved incrementally through the undertaking of service projects and scholarships, on both the international level and the local community level. "Zontians," as they are called, are very passionate and caring individuals, who work tirelessly to bring about positive change. Every two years Zonta International chooses international project(s) and the corresponding funding level for each project at their annual convention, to which every Zonta club sends a delegate. The delegates input their views and concerns, which provides for buy in by the organization. Each club is encouraged to allocate a portion of their local fund raising dollars, which is usually 1/3, to send to the international headquarters for addressing the newly chosen international project(s). The rest of the monies raised by the fund raising efforts of the local clubs are used by the local clubs to address their own local service projects, which most often mirrors as closely as possible the current international project(s). I believe that there is a strong similarity here between how Zonta works both on the international and local level, and how community policing works on the national and local level, i.e. the philosophy and tenets are basically the same, but it has to be tailored to each specific community.
In 2002, Zonta International established as one of its international projects, the eradication of Human Trafficking, Then in the years 2004 and 2006, Zonta International, believing that much more was still needed to be done in the fight against Human Trafficking, chose Human Trafficking again and again respectively, as their international project. It is easy to see why Zonta International and many Zonta Clubs have overwhelmingly endorsed the fight against Human Trafficking, especially when one discovers that women represent between 70-80 percent of the estimated 2 million annual victims of Human Trafficking.
Zonta International and the local Zonta Clubs realized early on that the first step in combating a horrendous problem of the magnitude of which Human Trafficking most certainly is, was to educate themselves as to how best to address it and then to keep current with the most recent knowledge in the field of Human Trafficking. The Zonta Club of Melbourne like so many other local Zonta Clubs of Florida; specifically sought out and contracted with the Florida RCPI, to provide their Human Trafficking training. In fact, when I asked them why was it that they had specifically sought out RCPI, they responded "Because of the knowledge and experience of the instructors, and the expertise of the RCPI". When I inquired what they thought about the training they had just received, they responded "The training was excellent. Both presenters were very knowledgeable about the subject matter, as well as accomplished speakers. Their professional approach to presenting and discussing disturbing subject matter was gratefully noted. The printed materials made available were both professional and informative. We believe that we were lucky to have teamed with Florida RCPI, who brought dedication and passion to the mission." I believe that speaks volumes and provides a glowing endorsement about the entire organization at RCPI.
The Zonta Club of Melbourne used their recent four hour training, not only to enhance their knowledge about Human Trafficking, but also as their first outreach to their local community whereby they invited community members who were not Zonta Club members to attend their training. They were being innovative in utilizing the maximum potential of available resources, i.e. enhancing their knowledge, enhancing other community members knowledge, connecting with other members of the community and enlisting those other members of the community in the fight against Human Trafficking.
Today, the Zonta Club of Melbourne is using every opportunity to discuss and share its knowledge of Human Trafficking with the rest of its local community. In addition, it has raised funds that have been designated to raise awareness of Human Trafficking on the local level. They are in the planning stages for implementing future training for area law enforcement, medical and social services personnel, and, once again they will contract with RCPI to conduct the training.