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All Posts in USA

December 6, 2018 - No Comments!

What’s In a Diagnosis?

By Jessicah Ray, PA-C

Why is a diagnosis of human trafficking important?
Human trafficking is internationally recognized as a public health problem with over 40.3 million victims identified, and with one-quarter of those being children. (Dovydaitis, 2010, Fink-Samnick, 2018).

In response to this global epidemic, hospitals and clinics are joining the mission to end human trafficking as the intercessors and advocates of the most vulnerable by improving diagnostic skills (Andrews, 2018). Because 86% of human trafficking victims are in contact with health care providers during the time of exploitation, multiple health initiatives are being launched to train providers how to identify human trafficking patients, safely report the abuse, and who to contact for intervention resources. (Dovydaitis, 2010). Health care providers have the critical opportunity to intervene by identifying the cause of the abuse with the correct diagnosis, treating the acute medical conditions, and developing a treatment plan with a specialty team. (Dovydaitis, 2010).

An unexpected tool of medical coding (ICD-10 codes) is now aiding the effort to combat these crimes against humanity. To better identify human trafficking victims, specific ICD-10 T codes have been produced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and released in October of 2018 (American Hospital Association, 2018; Fink-Samnick, 2018) to enhance the accurate identification and diagnosis of human trafficking, and to distinguish from other diagnoses such as domestic violence, prostitution, or child abuse.

Why is the correct medical code (ICD-10) important?
1)    Special care: Human trafficking victims are at increased risk of chronic injuries, complex psychological health problems, and social/legal considerations that warrant long-term multidisciplinary care and comprehensive resources. With the proper diagnosis, those care options are more readily available through established response protocols and automated referral systems.

2)    Informing Policy: Human trafficking statistics are notoriously underestimated due to underreporting, misdiagnosis, and the victim’s inaccessibility to health care. Medical codes are used to quantify and validate the needs of patients to better inform health policy where and how funds should be allocated. Data from these codes drives the financing for the needed prevention, rescue, and restoration resources.

Where should you go?
The American Hospital Association (2018) provides a complete list and guide for the new ICD-10 T codes:

What else can I do?
Multiple resources are available for multidisciplinary professionals to learn about human trafficking and improve identification, treatment, and response protocols in their hospitals and clinics. Consider joining an anti-trafficking organization or committee such as with Health, Education, Advocacy, and Linkage (HEAL) Trafficking: https://healtrafficking.org/.

References
American Hospital Association. (2018). ICD-10-CM coding for human trafficking. Retrieved from https://www.aha.org/icd-10-cm-coding-human-trafficking-resource

Andrews, M. (2018, July 24). Hospitals gear up for new diagnosis: Human trafficking.National Public Radio. Retrieved from https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2018/07/24/631517533/hospitals-gear-up-for-new-diagnosis-human-trafficking

Dovydaitis, T. (2010). Human trafficking: The role of the health care provider. Journal of midwifery & women's health55(5), 462-7. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jmwh.2009.12.017

Fink-Samnick, E. (2018, September 24). Human trafficking: New ICD-10 codes empower efforts to identify and aid victims. ICD10monitor. Retrieved from https://www.icd10monitor.com/human-trafficking-new-icd-10-codes-empower-efforts-to-identify-and-aid-victims

Heal Trafficking. (2018). Homepage. Retrieved from https://healtrafficking.org/

November 28, 2018 - No Comments!

Popular Video Game Used To Lure Child Victims

by Abigail Carcich

Fortnite, a wildly popular online video game about survival, was first released in early 2017 by Epic Games. Its second mode, Fortnite Battle Royale, released only a couple of months later, surged in popularity nearly overnight to over 10 million users. Currently, the free-to-play game has an estimated player base of over 100 million.

Players can play solo, or in a groups with friends. The game drops you into an environment where you and your team fight others (up to 100 people total) to be the last man standing, Hunger Games style.

Parents report enjoying the game for the camaraderie it gives them with their children. Kids report loving the game for the epic tales of adventure, survival, and demise.

However, predators are also using Fortnite to gain access to potential victims of sexual crimes. 

Many video games include a chat function, in which you can chat with other members of your team, or with other players in your same game. Some video games have built-in functions for live streaming of your game, allowing the general public to view your game on the internet as you play it, and comment or send you private messages.

Predators will chat with their potential victims, and look for vulnerable young people with whom to connect. After a series of messages, predators may request sexual/nude photographs, or send graphic images of their own. They also may request to meet their victims in person, with the intent of engaging in a sexual encounter.

Fortnite is one of the most popular online platforms currently, but it is by no means the only one that contains opportunities for predators. Recently, a sting operation in New Jersey resulted in the arrest of 24 men, all of whom used various online platforms to connect with their victims. These other platforms included chatting app Kik and social media apps Scout and Whisper.

Parents should be aware of which games and apps their children interact with, and should frequently discuss with their children the dangers of talking with strangers online. Good internet practices and rules should be established, such as do not share personal information with someone you meet online, never send personal images, and never agree to meet someone that you do not already know.

Parents should also familiarize themselves with the different apps and games that their children interact with, as well as their security settings, and should ask their children questions about their online or gaming friends, investigating any odd or secretive behavior.

Fortnite -- and video games in general -- is likely to continue being popular with young and old alike. Staying connected to your child and educating them is the best way to guard against online predators.

For more tips about internet safety, view ZOE's Parent Guide to Internet Safety http://gozoe.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/A-parent-guide-to-internet-safety.pdf).

October 23, 2018 - No Comments!

ZOE Rescue Walk Comes to Hawaii

Contact: Gaile Nitta - ZOE Rescue Walk Hawaii Coordinator
808 542-0850
gailenitta@gmail.com

ZOE International (www.goZOE.org), a non-profit organization that rescues and cares for child victims of human trafficking, is pleased to announce Hawaii’s first-ever ZOE Rescue Walk.

Begun six years ago in Los Angeles, this year’s annual ZOE Rescue Walk will also see participants in Hawaii and Tennessee walking to raise awareness and funds for human trafficking prevention, rescue, and restoration for children in the U.S. and Southeast Asia.

The walk takes place on Saturday, November 3 from 7-9 a.m. at the Mililani High School Track, located at 95-1200 Meheula Parkway in Mililani. This is a non-competitive, family-friendly, all-ages, at-your-own-pace, FUN event! The walk is just under 2 miles. All walkers who register by October 29 will receive a ZOE Walk t-shirt, a hand-crafted ZOE “Hope” bracelet, and a ZOE sticker. Registration is $25 (twenty-five dollars) for walkers 13 years and older. Walkers 12 and under are free, need not register, and will receive a free glow-in-the-dark rubber bracelet while supplies last. (A limited number of youth size t-shirts will also be available on walk day for $5.)

Advance online registration and more information is available at www.ZOERescueWalk.com. Same-day on-site registration is from 6-7 a.m. Be sure to sign up to walk with or support Team No Ka Oi Hawaii! (At this time, our Hawaii team is leading the way nationally in donations raised so far! https://give2.gozoe.org/event/zoe-rescue-walk-2018/e191953 Let’s show our Mainland cousins that Hawaii really is No Ka Oi!

Together, let’s be the UNSTOPPABLE HOPE to children waiting to be rescued from human trafficking and to bring full restoration and healing to those who have been rescued!

(ZOE is the Greek word for “life.”)

October 19, 2018 - No Comments!

Businesses That Care

By Karen Miyamoto

The 6th annual ZOE Rescue Walk is just a few weeks away.  This year's Walk theme is Unstoppable Hope...our hope is unstoppable as we strive to rescue every child and care for them with the love to Jesus!  The event will be on November 3rd, Saturday at LA Mission College/El Cariso Park Sylmar, CA.  Our goal this year is to raise $150,000 and to have 1000 people walking to join the fight against human trafficking.  It’s going to be an amazing day!

Don’t you love businesses that care?  Currently we have 5 Corporate Sponsors that have donated funds to support our Walk.  It’s a great way to show people that your business is doing something to make a difference.  It’s also a great opportunity to gain exposure while supporting a great cause.  Do you own a business or know someone that may want to help sponsor our event?

Sponsorship opportunities start at $250.00.  Below are the different sponsorship levels and benefits:

  • Bronze Level $250.00 – Mention of your business once a month on ZOE social media sites
  • Silver Level $500.00 – Mention of your business once a month on ZOE social media sites, your company logo on the ZOE Rescue Walk website
  • Gold Level $1,000.00 – Mention of your business once a month on ZOE social media sites, your company logo on the ZOE Rescue Walk website, signage at the Rescue Walk
  • Platinum Level $2,500.00+ – Mention of your business once a month on ZOE social media sites, your company logo on the ZOE Rescue Walk website, signage at the Rescue Walk and your company logo in Rescue Walk newsletter (post Walk)

It’s not too late to become a Corporate Sponsor.  We thank you in advance for your consideration!  Check out our Walk website for more info!

September 17, 2018 - No Comments!

Support for Parents of CSEC

by Marji Iacovetti

This summer, LA County launched a pilot program to support parents of Commercially Sexually Exploited Children (CSEC). ZOE was privileged to support the county’s efforts.

The weekly meetings were held at a church and were led by two experienced and caring clinicians – one from the Department of Mental Health and another from an organization called Saving Innocence. Members of the church demonstrated God’s love as they opened their hearts as well as their facilities. They greeted the women warmly, served them dinner, and provided childcare.

Eight mothers attended regularly. These precious moms wept for their children, bonded with each other, and learned valuable information. It was an honor to serve them. Human trafficking not only brutalizes the victims, but also violates their families. Please pray for mothers, fathers, other caregivers, and siblings whose hearts ache over the harm experienced by their loved ones.

Community partnerships are key to healing for survivors and their families. If your church has capacity to be a resource and partner in the fight against child trafficking, please email info@gozoe.org.

September 10, 2018 - No Comments!

Efforts in Los Angeles

by Ester Yu

In July, an undercover human trafficking operation in Compton recovered 2 girls from commercial sexual exploitation and arrested 36 adults. The 2 girls were 16 and 17 years old and identified as victims of sexual exploitation. One woman who was arrested is actually from Santa Clarita and was trying to recruit an undercover officer to work in commercial sexual exploitation. Read more here: https://ktla.com/2018/07/20/36-arrested-2-girls-rescued-in-human-trafficking-bust-in-compton-lasd

Compton is part of a larger Service Planning Area (SPA) identified by Los Angeles County as having the highest number of referrals for suspected cases of CSEC. (Source: http://file.lacounty.gov/SDSInter/bos/supdocs/121549.pdf) ZOE values our partnerships with community groups, organizations, and churches all over Los Angeles County, especially in the Compton area. By expanding our network, we are able to broaden resources for the youth we serve while also supporting our community partners who serve the most vulnerable children.

For the past several months, ZOE has assisted Los Angeles County's Department of Children and Family Services and Department of Probations in their pilot Parent Empowerment Program by supporting a Compton church partner to provide a nurturing, safe meeting space, child care, and food for the County to teach and lead a support group for parents of children who are survivors of human trafficking.

Recently, ZOE attended the Compton Human Trafficking Task Force meeting with guest Dr. Brenda Ingram who taught about the Intersection of Risk Factors for Black Boys in Sex Trafficking. Boys are at risk to become victims and/or exploiters of human trafficking. It is vital for our communities to invest and pour into the lives of our young men so that they can become allies and protectors of our young women. ZOE's USA Regional Director Dr. Jason Plunkett and Assistant USA Regional Director Ester Yu participate in a workgroup led by Los Angeles County Department of Probations to develop a CSEC prevention/intervention curriculum for young men. While interviewing former exploiters in Chicago, researchers discovered that most of the men who were interviewed were abused and trafficked as children themselves before becoming exploiters. (Source: https://law.depaul.edu/about/centers-and-institutes/schiller-ducanto-fleck-family-law-center/Documents/interview_ex_pimps.pdf)

We know that all of our current efforts, research, and collaboration are equipping ZOE's Los Angeles team to best meet the needs of our youth in Los Angeles County. Please partner with us in our efforts in LA: https://give2.gozoe.org/give/90447/#!/donation/checkout.

September 4, 2018 - No Comments!

Understanding Your Child’s Apps

by ZOE Intern, Elizabeth Leathers

How Well Do You Understand the Apps on your Child’s Phone?

The popular app, LiveMe, is proving to be a breeding ground for the distribution of child pornography and grooming for future sexual exploitation. While LiveMe is marketed for ages thirteen and up, there are thousands of users who are younger than 13 using the app. A live-streaming platform, LiveMe allows users to broadcast and document their everyday lives and watch others nearby. Users can send gifts and virtual currency to other users. This article - https://denver.cbslocal.com/2017/07/03/thornton-live-me-app highlights the unforeseen dangers associated with this app by sharing chilling stories of children being exploited in the perceived safety of their rooms without their parents’ knowledge. Using every tool in their arsenal, exploiters utilize threats of violence, peer pressure, and deception to achieve their desired results. Exploiters post and profit from these videos on websites promoting commercial child exploitation.

The article highlights the importance of parents knowing and understanding the apps on their children’s phones in order to prevent child exploitation. Children are made more vulnerable by nature due to their desire to seek approval from others. When parents are vigilant and proactive in this area, they can help to keep their children safe. This could mean downloading the app and figuring out what safeguards are necessary to protect children or it could mean doing thorough research. If you are interested in more tips about internet safety, ZOE has an excellent resource for parents linked below.

http://gozoe.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/A-parent-guide-to-internet-safety.pdf

ZOE is addressing this crucial issue through our MyGenMyFight program by going into middle schools, high schools, universities, and churches to discuss internet safety. This includes conversations about strangers online, what not to post, and what respecting others online entails.

August 22, 2018 - No Comments!

In Our Backyard

by Ester Yu

Last month, ZOE was invited to participate in a roundtable discussion about federal and local efforts to combat human trafficking and the ongoing opioid epidemic. This meeting was hosted by Representative Steve Knight (R-CA) and House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX) and included local government officials, state legislators, law enforcement agencies, and representatives from local nonprofit organizations like ZOE.

Opioids is a significant problem in Santa Clarita Valley. In the roundtable meeting, it was discussed that there have been seven overdose deaths this year alone and that Santa Clarita is a “corridor” for drug and human trafficking. The Signal Santa Clarita Valley recently produced a series (https://vault.signalscv.com/addicted) documenting the local opioid crisis.

ZOE was able to suggest some action items related to human trafficking. We appreciate opportunities to learn from, network with, and share our knowledge and experience with those who are on the front-lines combating human trafficking through roundtable and task force meetings such as this one, the Los Angeles Regional Human Trafficking Task Force (LARHTTF), a Human Trafficking Congressional Advisory Committee, and others.

Human trafficking and the opioid epidemic don’t just affect one region of the country or any specific demographic,” said Rep. Knight These are national issues that hurt our neighbors in all of our communities. Chairman McCaul and the Homeland Security Committee have been extremely effective in pushing aggressive legislation that will help address many of these most pressing challenges. I want to thank him for his continued leadership and for making the trip out here to bring his expertise to these roundtable discussions.”

Today’s events were very beneficial and a huge success,” said Chairman McCaul “In order to effectively fight human trafficking and the opioid epidemic, we need to coordinate local and federal law enforcement, engage private sector non-profits, and enact many of the bold policies we’ve been advancing in the House. Rep. Knight brings invaluable experience to these discussions from his career as a police officer and I’d like to thank him for hosting me in California’s 25th District.”

Press Release: https://knight.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=2083

July 30, 2018 - No Comments!

A Dollar and Then Some!

by Karen Miyamoto

Summer always brings back fond memories…memories of spending time with friends, camp, beach and fun!  During the summer months at ZOE equals Kids Helping Kids. This program is often adopted during Vacation Bible School for churches as a missions/outreach tool.  

Kaylin Sugihara proudly showing her Kids Helping Kids Hero sticker!

This year, Cerritos Baptist Church, a local church in Cerritos, CA adopted ZOE during their July VBS as a part of their Compassion Project.  Steph Luna, their Children’s Ministry Director was so excited to share the Kids Helping Kids project with her kids! Their VBS theme this year was “Shipwrecked.”  Throughout the week, the kids learned that when you struggle, worry, do wrong, feel lonely or are powerless…Jesus Rescues! This year’s theme connected very well with ZOE’s mission of rescuing every child!

Below is a comment from Steph on how her VBS went…

Thank you for your prayers for this week! VBS was a success! The kids loved the treasure chest and filling it with money to help other kids. They were excited about helping other kids and my co-director’s son even put in his tooth fairy money!!! The parent letters were great information to give, because I think it really moved parents to give more than they normally would. On Day 3, I gave kids $1 if they could whisper the memory verse that was on our shirts (psalm 34:19)…one 5th grade boy listed it as his God Sighting for the day, being able to earn a dollar for ZOE! Our goal was to break $1,000 and we were able to raise $1,307.45!  We appreciate your support and the opportunity to partner with you! Praising the Lord for His goodness! 

Thank you Steph and the amazing team at Cerritos Baptist Church for adopting ZOE this year.  You guys are AWESOME!!

July 30, 2018 - No Comments!

Working Side by Side

By Vickie McCoy

I am so excited to share with you all a recap of two events that our team here at ZOE was able to be part of.

One of the events was “Toes in the Sand Beach Day” and the other was “Hip Hop and Hair”.

Girls in the process of recovering from human trafficking here in Los Angeles were recently invited to attend these two events. I’m grateful to tell you that ZOE was invited as well. ZOE was asked to help with the events and be part of the planning! These events help expose the girls to new activities and new experiences that can help bring hope and healing in their lives.

We were grateful to spend time with the young ladies, and with the frontline heroes who work with them every day – like Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) and employees from short-term residential therapeutic programs (STRTP’s). (Look for future blogs explaining ZOE Los Angeles progress in acquiring our STRTP license.)

"Toes in the Sand Beach Day" was filled with yoga, beach volleyball, a sandcastle building competition and taking in the cool breeze, listening to the ocean waves crash, and sand between the toes. Click here to watch the recap!

"Hip Hop and Hair"–well you guessed it–a day of dance hosted by our very own church supporters, Pastors Tymme and Aury Reitz, from Life150. After dance, we did some hair care training––explaining how to wash, moisturize and brush out your hair. Click here to watch the recap!

Both of these days were over-the-top AMAZING!!!!! The girls loved it and the DCFS staff were encouraged and blessed seeing their girls open up and have fun–from being at the beach and hanging out, to learning choreography and dance, to working on some wonderful hair creations–everyone was blessed.

We were, and are, grateful to work side by side with DCFS and help support them in the work they are doing. Because of you, our ZOE donors, we were able to give Starbucks gift cards, Forever 21 gift cards, shampoo and cream rinse, special hairbrushes, and ZOE bags.

To make it possible for even MORE collaborations in the future, donate today! - DONATE