Fighting the state’s sex trade industry will be the focus of northern Colorado’s first-ever Human Trafficking Symposium at Colorado State University on Feb. 22.
The day-long event will cover the many facets of human trafficking to help northern Colorado professionals, community members, faculty, staff and students learn more and receive training to combat it, organizers say.
“It’s our obligation to expose these crimes and make effective plans to eradicate them, locally, nationally and internationally,” said Rick Miranda, CSU’s provost and executive vice president.
The numbers behind sex trafficking in Colorado are stark, according to CSU.
Thirty percent of kids who run away from home in Colorado will be recruited to trade sex for food and other necessities within 48 hours. The average number of homeless youth in Colorado at any given time is 1,500, according to CSU.
Last year, 112 youth were recovered from sex trafficking in Colorado, and in 2016, 204 commercial sexual exploitation of children charges were filed in Larimer County, said Beth Bruno, executive director of the anti-traffcking group A Face To Reframe and chair of the symposium steering committee.
“What we hear from those providing services is that they need the next level of training, and concerned citizens want to better understand how this happens and what to do,” Bruno said.
The keynote speaker at the symposium will be Rebecca Bender, a survivor of six years of sex trafficking and author of “Roadmap to Redemption.” Bender is a nationally recognized expert on human trafficking and the founder and CEO of Rebecca Bender Initiatives.
RBI’s advanced training has been used by the FBI, Homeland Security, and other groups fighting trafficking.
The symposium is a collaboration among A Face to Reframe, Free Our Girls, the CSU College of Business, and Rescue: Freedom. It takes place from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Feb. 22 at the Lory Student Center, and is sponsored by the Richardson Foundation.