Honolulu (KHON2) – Ho’ōla Nā Pua is spreading the word about the threats of sex trafficking and exploitation while vulnerable populations spend more time at home and online with potential predators.
“The threat of COVID-19 is affecting all of us, but the most vulnerable in our community are disproportionately impacted,” explains Ho’ōla Nā Pua President and Founder Jessica Munoz. “Youth that are currently being victimized are experiencing an increase in physical danger as traffickers threaten them to drive a profit in these tenuous economic times.”
She adds that HNP has experienced an increased need for care coordination and an increase in crisis assistance requests since March 15th. Due to displacement as a result of programs and shelters discharging youth without a care plan, the financial strain on families of youth, and the lack of resources due to limited mobility has created a swell of unprecedented need we are called to fulfill.
Meanwhile, the FBI has issued a warning to parents, educators, caregivers, and children about the dangers of online sexual exploitation during this time of increased online activity as professionals work from home and children learn from home. The nation’s centralized reporting system for the online exploitation of children, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children’s CyberTipline, became aware of predators openly discussing the pandemic as an opportunity to entice unsupervised children into producing sexually explicit material.
Immediate Virtual Safety Tips For Parents / Guardians:
a. Check with your children to see if their social media and online accounts are private.
b. Do they own a cell phone not provided by you, the parents/guardians?
c. Make sure you know what your children are doing online and check on them if they are in their rooms for long interrupted periods of time
d. Remind children to never give out full name, address, phone number, school names etc., to people you meet on the internet.
e. Talk to your kids about what is appropriate to post online and what is not. Even one image can stay on the internet forever, so make sure they understand the consequences of an inappropriate post or photo.
f. Ask your children about the websites, group chats they visit and any new friends they’ve made. Encourage caution when talking to new people online. Unfortunately, sometimes an online personality can be a fake profile created by someone who turns out to not be safe to chat or meet alone.
g. Monitor App downloads
h. Sync your devices or check on the websites yourself or ask them to show you
HNP’s Response and Essential Services:
a. Operation of the HNP Helpline: Open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to receive crisis assistance requests, provide support for current clients, or receive referrals for at-risk or victimized youth
b. We provide mobile outreach and meet with youth where they are, when they need us
c. Care coordination through our newly developed Advocacy Program in which survivors in crisis meet regularly with a social worker and/or a survivor on staff
d. Increased mentorship matches and increased mentorship check-ins with youth
e. Delivery of packaged care kits for youth and families facing financial challenges
f. Delivery of packaged toolkits for conducting virtual lessons on psychosocial health and to prevent revictimization, which we deliver to at-risk youth
g. Safely conduct face-to-face group sessions at multiple care facilities to keep high-risk youth engaged, connected, and offer much needed consistency during this very difficult time
h. Educational webinars to train and inform parents, professionals, and law enforcement on how to prevent, identify, and intervene
Ho’ōla Nā Pua is currently fundraising for its 20,000 square-foot residential treatment campus Pearl Haven, seeking $19 donations and social media sharing asking friends to match donations.
Pearl Haven is designed as a place to heal and help these girls rediscover hope and a vision for their future.
Call or Text the Ho’ola Na Pua Helpline for Support, Care Coordination, or to make a Referral. 808.435.9555 (24/7)
The National Human Trafficking Hotline: 888.373.7888
For more information visit: www.hoolanapua.org