kNOw MORE!: Tackling San Diego's Trafficking Problem through Forum Theatre
No more tears.
No more traps. No more dirty eyes. No more pretending. No more screams at night. No more being controlled. No more games. No more fears. No more wondering why. No more regret. No more pain. No more nasty hands on me. No more getting beat. No more baby girl. No more loneliness. No more sick creeps. No more lost boy. No more lost girl.
This is the goal of kNOw MORE!, a program focused on teaching middle and high school youth about human trafficking with the vision of eradicating this issue in San Diego County, California. kNOw MORE! is a program of the Center for Justice and Reconciliation at Point Loma Nazarene University (PLNU), located in San Diego, and developed in collaboration with the San Diego Human Trafficking Advisory Council network.
Dressember not only aims to rescue victims and rehabilitate survivors, but we also raise funds and awareness for education and preventative work, which is the objective of kNOw MORE! The program believes that young people are key players in stopping human trafficking in its early stages.
The program’s curriculum targets middle and high schoolers because local research shows that in San Diego, there are between 3,000 and 8,000 victims of human trafficking a year, and the average age of recruitment is just 16 years old.
The director of the Center for Justice and Reconciliation, sociology professor Dr. Jamie Gates, was a lead researcher for a study funded by the Department of Justice about the connection between gangs and sex trafficking in San Diego County. He and the kNOw MORE! team, as well as other prevention curriculum providers have taken this information to fuel continued research and action toward stopping human trafficking in the area by educating and empowering youth.
"In San Diego, there are between 3,000 and 8,000 victims of human trafficking a year, and the average age of recruitment is just 16 years old. "
kNOw MORE! uses a method called “forum theatre,” which shows realistic scenarios of how victims of trafficking are recruited and coerced. Further, it asks participants to step into the action of the storyline by presenting questions such as, “What could have been done differently?” There is drama and audience interaction within this program. Program facilitators desire to see a great number of San Diego youth not only learning but becoming powerful agents of change in their community.
Since the program’s curriculum was created in San Diego, based on San Diego data, for San Diego solutions, and with San Diego people, it is significantly more personal for the students who experience its training. The hope is that, by using San Diego as a case study but using national trends, kNOw MORE! can be adapted to other communities, too. Students are taught warning signs and strategies of trafficking and are equipped with resources to keep safe. A main objective of the program is to empower students to learn how to take action to protect themselves and their peers, to become “upstanders” instead of would-be bystanders.
The Center for Justice and Reconciliation also has a scholarship called the Beauty for Ashes Fund for survivors of human trafficking to allow them to continue to be empowered through higher education at PLNU. Through the Center’s work with anti-trafficking services, law enforcement, and survivors themselves, they realized a common dream of these young people after rescue is attending a university.
The Beauty for Ashes Fund is currently helping 5 sex trafficking survivors earn their college degrees, and they constantly hear stories of hope through the scholarship. To learn more about this opportunity to invest in survivors starting new lives and meaningful careers, check it out here.
"A main objective of the program is to empower students to learn how to take action to protect themselves and their peers, to become “upstanders” instead of would-be bystanders."
Institutions of higher learning should be on the front lines in the fight against human trafficking. Society’s youth should be in protected environments, not hidden away from all risks but made aware and equipped in the face of evil as they push toward intellectual and personal growth. If more people were free to pursue their own dreams and enhance their skills as respected and supported individuals, entire communities would benefit.
You can learn more about kNOw MORE! through their website here and support the donation and grant-funded program financially. If you are local, feel free to invite them to bring the program to your school or organization. But for those of you who are hundreds or even thousands of miles away from San Diego, what are some ways you can brainstorm solutions tailored to the needs of your very own community? It takes advocates from all over the world to prevent the issue before it happens and to stand up to say, “no more.”
About the Author
Chynna Terrell is an ENFJ who will graduate in May with a degree in English Literature from the University of Oklahoma (boomer!). Aside from school, she serves as president of her InterVarsity Christian Fellowship chapter and loves to write and edit for the Dressember blog. And, why yes, she would love to have you over for a hot cup of tea, a puzzle, and good conversation.