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All Posts in USA

April 1, 2020 - No Comments!

6 Steps to Keeping Your Child Safe Online During School Closures

With even more time at home and the increase in use of internet devices, it’s important that we help keep our children safe. If your child is using devices for online school, has a mobile device, or uses gaming systems, it’s time to have a conversation with your family about internet safety. 

Here are six practical steps you can take as a parent to help protect your child!

  1. Keep connected. It’s so important your child feels safe and connected to family members. The more connected and safe they feel with family, the more comfortable they will be to discuss issues, including issues they encounter online. In contrast, the more disconnected they feel from parents/family, things have potential to start becoming secretive, and they may seek affirmation, connection, and relationships outside of the home for that connection.

  2. Have open conversations with your child about the dangers of the internet and how to practice online safety. 
    SMART acronym is a great place to start! 
    S - Safe - Stay safe by keeping personal information private! Location, contact info, passwords etc.
    M - Meeting - Don’t meet in person with someone you met online! Tell your parents if you would like to meet with someone you met online.
    A - Accepting - Do not accept friend requests or follows from people you don’t know! Don't accept files, images, or texts from unknown senders! These could be viruses or contain inappropriate content. 
    R - Reliable - People online are not reliable, and can easily lie about who they are. It’s best to reserve your trust for people you know. If you are messaging with someone online, make sure it is someone you know!
    T - Tell - If something makes you feel uncomfortable, be sure to tell a parent or trusted adult. Parents, it’s important that if your child chooses to share something with you, that you remain a safe place, without judgement or punishment. Then together, you can report any illegal or inappropriate activity.

  3. Work together with your child to establish internet guidelines. Don’t just give a list of “don’t do this or that,” have a conversation with your child, teaching them why. You may consider signing a contract with your child about the agreed upon rules for online use. We suggest covering these topics: 
    • What apps/sites can be visited? What apps and/or sites are off limits?
    • Where can they use their devices? Should they limit their internet use to general spaces?
    • Who needs to be present when they use the internet? Do they need parental supervision?
    • When and for how long can they be on their device? Do they need to limit screen time to certain hours/times of day

  4. Utilize parental controls to help monitor and protect online activity. Regularly check posts, messages, texts, etc. This part takes a bit of research in the beginning and continued upkeep, but it is important to help our children navigate internet usage.
    To help you in the start of your search, one field staff shared, “Even though I have been working in this area for years, I recall that when we started this process, it was quite overwhelming. It takes time for you to establish guidelines, time to find software that helps show their activity, and time for you to monitor and check-in with your child…  No matter what software you use, it is not set and forget! Initially we used the free version of Qustodio to help us set up simple daily time time limits. Apple also has great parental control software.” 

  5. If you notice behavior changes in your child, such as isolating themselves, becoming secretive about their phone, or wanting to spend more time in their room with a device, ask your child what’s going on, without judgement or punishment. 

  6. If you discover your child has been interacting with a potentially dangerous person or content, don’t panic! Be a safe place for your child. Break off contact — stop talking and stop replying. Criminal activity, including explicit photos or text messages, should be saved and taken to the police for investigation. Report any illegal activity to law enforcement.

October 7, 2019 - No Comments!

USA

In 2016, it was estimated that there were about 403,000 victims of human trafficking in the United States. (International Labour Organization)

The United States is both a source and a transit country for trafficking. It is considered one of the top destinations for victims of child trafficking and exploitation. Cases of human trafficking have been reported in all 50 U.S. states.

In America, ZOE is working in the areas of prevention, rescue and restoration. ZOE raises awareness and funds to prevent trafficking through their annual Rescue Walk, student and community programs (like My Gen My Fight) and by providing trafficking awareness training and presentations to schools, churches, social workers, mental health workers, businesses, hotels, and community groups.

ZOE is contracted with Los Angeles County’s Department of Child and Family Services and Department of Probations to provide 24-7 crisis response and victim advocacy services when first responders recover a child from sex trafficking or when children are identified as victims of sex trafficking in Los Angeles County.

ZOE has purchased 50 acres of land in North Los Angeles County and is building a short-term residential therapeutic program (STRTP) for female youth who have been trafficked in Los Angeles. This home will provide holistic care to bring restoration and meet the physical, emotional, social, educational, vocational, and spiritual needs of these survivors.

You can read more about ZOE’s presence in America here or stay connected with their activities here.

October 2, 2019 - No Comments!

A Glimpse of His Heart

by Anne J

Words cannot describe the supernatural experience I had on my Short Term Mission (STM) to Thailand with ZOE International.  From the first meeting I attended at the ZOE Santa Clarita office in preparation for the STM to the last day in Thailand were all so special and exceptional!  Everything that Betsy and Vickie advised us during the monthly meetings happened exactly like the way they described so there were no surprises, except for the incredible hotel accommodations we had, particularly the Horizon resort hotel -- OMG the amazing botanical gardens with so many animal shaped topiaries and a zoo that would take three hours on a bike to explore! That was truly over the top.

The warm reception at the Chiang Mai airport by the Long Term Missionaries (LTMs) and the Leadership Training (LT) students were priceless. Carol and Mike Hart are God sent. The whole ZOE Family were all so very humble and kind. I went to Thailand thinking I would be working hard and roughing it for two weeks, instead, the LTMs, LT students, and the ZOE kids were the ones blessing me and serving me. The interactive dinners we had with the ZOE children reminded me of Psalms 23 -- "2 He makes me lie down in green pastures... 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies... 6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever." I was humbled by the ZOE families' meekness and how passionate they were about serving and worship. The children's testimonies and the LT students' drama performances were profound. Our STM team that I met for the first time, in person, were also so very special. Holy Spirit was definitely on our side.

To sum up my experience, our theme song "Our God" says it all. I prayed and asked my church to pray that I, too (like Betsy), would be able to see the people/children of Thailand through God's heart and God afforded me a glimpse of His heart.

Water you turn into wine
Open the eyes of the blind, there's no one like You, none like You
Into the darkness you shine
Out of the ashes we rise, there's no one like You, none like You

Our God is greater, our God is stronger
God you are higher than any other
Our God is Healer, awesome in power, our God, our God

September 17, 2019 - No Comments!

August STM Blog

It has been said that a picture is worth a thousand words but I say one word is worth far more than a thousand pictures to convey the work that God is accomplishing through ZOE International in Chiang Mai, Thailand. That one word is GO!

GO! see the vision of ZOE founders Mike and Carol Hart come to life. God is working mightily through this precious couple and a dedicated team of missionaries to combat human trafficking through prevention, rescue, and restoration. While our short-term mission team did not witness the risky work of children being physically rescued from brothels and bars, we did work alongside the ZOE staff and students to educate teens in two Karen hill tribe village schools about ways traffickers trap young people into this growing form of slavery. We did see restoration taking place daily in the youth living at ZOE through an education that equips for life on earth and for eternity. We did see young Thai adults enrolled in a Leadership Training program mentoring those recently rescued. Go see for yourself the power of God at work.

GO! see the Holy Spirit penetrate the hearts of children as they boldly worship Jesus with their whole being, as they lovingly serve those around them, as they gain self-respect and control over their lives for the first time. Go see for yourself how these children who were once abused, lost and alone, come to embody Jesus’ command to love God with heart, mind, and soul and to love others as they love themselves.

GO! see long-term missionaries equipped with every needed skill from all over the world work together in love and unity because each is serving the same Lord. There is a spirit of humility, respect, and love that permeates the entire ministry. The grace and mercy received from God is poured out in spades on these precious little ones. Go see for yourself people who love God go to the far corners of the earth to spread the Good News.

GO! see how the missionaries and Thai workers together have developed a sustainable campus that includes its own water system, a state-of-the-art pig farm, and gardens that provide for 300-500 meals each day. See how a grant from the U.S. funded a shop that allows students to learn life skills of carpentry, welding, and mechanics.

GO! see how God will open your eyes, your ears, your hands, put wings to your feet and thereby change your heart. Our team of 26 short-term missionaries from all over the U.S. were each stretched out of our individual comfort zones but bonded together as the body of Christ, equipped to accomplish more than anyone of us imagined possible. We each went to serve others but ended up being served by those individuals. Go see for yourself how all things are possible with God.  

As for me, as I head back home with a renewed dedication to serve boldly, humbly, and faithfully wherever God has me. I am but one person but because Jesus Christ lives in me, I am perfectly equipped to do His work so I look forward to being involved as ZOE International extends into Japan, Australia, and Los Angeles. When Jesus says "go,” I go. 

GO ZOE! GO GOD!

Written by Nancy Shaw

May 1, 2019 - No Comments!

Double Impact

ZOE United States

Impact = to have a strong effect on someone or something.

“Impact” is a great word for the month of April for ZOE. We had a “Double the Impact” campaign where gifts would be doubled up to $50,000. We had close to $49,000 come in and an amazing couple who loves God, is kingdom-minded and generous--hearted is donating the full $50,000 matching promise! This campaign will yield close to $99,000. This came at the right time for ZOE as we are expanding our work rapidly in Los Angeles and resources are needed to support the expansion. We are finishing grading the land to prepare to build our first home servicing Los Angeles. Additionally, we have been asked to serve not just one but two large service areas of Los Angeles County in the First Responder’s Protocol which means ZOE will be on scene within 90 minutes of law enforcement rescuing or identifying a child or youth trafficking victim in these areas. Once on scene, we will begin the process of care and restoration of these precious youth and will aid and follow their first months of healing and transition.

What excites us more than the dollars that came in, is the fact that God is propelling His work through generous partners of ZOE. We see everyone who gives as true ministry partners and part of our ZOE family. Each partner is making an impact. Each gift is making an impact. And each partner has a part in all that God does through the work of ZOE.

God is on the move! He is opening doors of opportunity for kids and youth who need it the most. When Jesus came to earth, paid the ultimate price and rose from the grave He made the greatest impact the world has ever seen. The world has never been the same. 2000 years later, He is still touching lives. He is doing this through the ministry of ZOE. He is doing it through strategic partnerships that are making a difference…making an impact in Los Angeles and beyond.

April 8, 2019 - No Comments!

Why Don’t Victims Leave the Trafficker?

There is a public misconception that victims of sex trafficking can leave if they want to, but choose to stay because of the money they make. This story reveals how victims are often brutalized, tattooed, and threatened into exploitation. In this case, the trafficker was a woman and kept the money that was made. She recruited two minors and other young women through the internet.

Learn more about recognizing the signs of traffickingHelp ZOE in our efforts to educate youth about the tactics that traffickers use in order to prevent them from becoming victims.

March 26, 2019 - No Comments!

ZOE Recognizes Traumatic Brain Injury Awareness Month

By Jessicah Ray, PA & Concussion SpecialistTraumatic Brain Injury Awareness for Survivors of Human Trafficking

Much advancement has been accomplished in the recognition of the comprehensive and trauma-informed health needs for survivors of human trafficking. However, publications and guidelines have yet to consistently include the consideration for traumatic brain injury (TBI) assessment and care. This can be a critical miss due to the high rate of abuse and secondary risk of head injuries in this population. In fact, over 92% of survivors of sex trafficking reported suffering from physical violence with most from direct blows to the head or face (Chisolm-Straker & Stoklosa, 2017). Such a high statistic is astonishing considering violence and abuse statistics are constantly underreported.

TBI research has confirmed that children and females are at increased risk of prolonged recovery from traumatic brain injuries. But unlike the general population, human trafficking victims are even more likely to not only sustain multiple TBIs, but also to not recover well from them because of the continued abuse and risk factors. Recovery from TBI is dependent on head injury education, proper rest, gradual return to activity, supportive care, healthy lifestyle choices, and access to medical care when needed.

However, survivors of human trafficking experience barriers in all these TBI recovery respects due to:·       High risk of sustaining multiple TBIs·       No opportunity to recover between injuries·       No available emotional support·       Little access to education or healthcare·       Forced to return to work immediately

·       At risk of malnutrition, substance abuse, and anxiety disorders

The real danger is that without proper diagnosis of TBI, the TBI remains untreated and many of the common symptoms of chronic TBI may be misattributed to other diagnoses.  These TBI symptoms include memory difficulty, disorganized thinking, headaches, anxiety, insomnia, dizziness, vision problems, hormone changes, and in cases of children - developmental problems. Many of these symptoms can be mislabeled as secondary to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, personality disorders, addiction, or even behavioral problems. Misdiagnosis can also lead to new problems from the wrong treatment choice worsening the untreated TBI symptoms.

The great news is that treating TBI can reduce these symptoms and the recovery time, even if the head injuries were multiple and occurred years ago. In fact, because victims of abuse often have both TBI and PTSD, treating one often improves symptoms of the other. That is, treating the TBI can improve the PTSD, and vice versa. Most current evidence-based treatment recommendations for TBI, PTSD, and survivors of human trafficking endorse multi-disciplined trauma-informed care. Therefore there is a promising opportunity to integrate TBI assessment and treatment into health management recommendations for survivors of human trafficking, and we can be encouraged to use TBI care as a targeted way to enhance the recovery and quality of life of this vulnerable  population.References: Chisolm-Straker, M., & Stoklosa, H. (Eds.). (2017). Human Trafficking Is a Public Health Issuehttps://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-47824-1

March 11, 2019 - No Comments!

Longing for Home

ZOE International
By Lori-Ann Tsang

I’ve been contemplating the concept of “home” lately. What are ways we try to make a place feel more like home? In thinking about the structure and physical building itself, unless you are an architect or a builder, your first chance at this happens after the structure has been built and is completed. We bring in furniture, plants, rugs, shelves, and other personal belongings to help us feel at home.  

Long before any plans were drawn up or the first brick was laid for our ZOE home in Thailand, our leaders, planning team, and architects began thinking about this concept of “home.” They knew the building itself would need to be unique and special because of its purpose. It would be place where children rescued from human trafficking could feel safe, secure, and loved…a place they could call home.

The inside is beautiful and very livable!! I love the layout and the building very much. I want a house like this of my own, someday!"

~ Recently rescued youth about ZOE Thailand’s Child Rescue Center

So much planning, prayer, and preparation goes into the building of every structure on each ZOE campus. It is done with love and care, knowing that it will have a far-reaching impact on the precious children who come through the doors.

This reminds me that we have a perfect home being prepared for us. One that is beyond our wildest dreams. “... looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:10, NIV).

Find out more about our newest HOME being built in LA: https://gozoe.org/our-work/los-angeles/

February 27, 2019 - No Comments!

Journeys Reclaimed

ZOE USA
By Marji Iacovetti

ZOE was privileged to support a Human Trafficking Symposium at Camp Scott on January 29th. The theme of this beautiful event was Reclaiming My Journey. The symposium equipped youth at the juvenile detention camp with knowledge about tactics traffickers use to lure and exploit young people.

Trafficking survivor, Tika Thorton, spoke with youth about her experiences. Santa Clarita Mayor Marsha McLean attended the event along with other community leaders. Zonta Club of Santa Clarita provided special food. Angelica Gomez from Journey Out and Dr. Jason Plunkett, ZOE’s Western USA Regional Director, led a training for parents of youth in the camp.

Though human trafficking is a weighty topic, the day was uplifting. Young people were honored at the symposium and the event helped empower them to stay safe. It was a truly inspiring day.

 

February 27, 2019 - No Comments!

ZOE Trains Hilton Hotel Employees

ZOE USA
By Ester Yu

In 2018, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a bill that requires human trafficking awareness training in industries where workers are likely to encounter human trafficking victims, including hotel and motel workers. By January 1, 2020, employers must provide at least 20 minutes of training to employees in these industries.

In a national study of more than 1,400 cases of sex traffickers of minors between 2010 and 2015, the most common venue where children were trafficked were from hotel rooms (56.6%).

Hilton Hotel in Universal City invited ZOE Los Angeles to provide human trafficking awareness training to more than 120 of their employees, from housekeepers to the General Manager, sharing about how to identify signs of human trafficking in a hotel setting. We were excited to be able to provide one session in Spanish.

Our team was so encouraged by the Training Manager who worked hard to coordinate this training after she first heard about human trafficking over a year ago. Participants were engaged, asked great questions, and shared what they learned in the training.

Our message to the employees was that this is happening in our communities and that each of us can do our part to look out for one another's children, sisters, and friends.

To help ZOE continue to provide these free trainings to your communities, visit gozoe.org/donate.