The Religious Sisters of Charity in California were recently involved in a Symposium to educate teachers, parents, and youth leaders about how technology is used to traffic young people. The event was organised by the Southern California Partners for Global Justice…
“What My Parents Don’t Know @ Internet”
(The Link to Human Trafficking)
Christ has no online presence but yours,
No blog, no Facebook page but yours,
Yours are the tweets
through which love touches this world,
Yours are the posts through which the Gospel is shared,
Yours are the updates through which hope is revealed.
Yours are the links that create relationships and networks.
Yours are the texts that communicate information,
seek help, express compassion.
Christ has no online presence but yours,
No blog, no Facebook page but yours.
– adapted from Meredith Gould
The strength of partnerships and collaboration was clear as we were part of the Symposium March 9th to educate teachers, parents, and youth leaders about how technology is used to traffic young people. The Southern California Partners for Global Justice organized the event. This is a coalition of women religious, non profits, CAST, and lay justice leaders. Those in attendance included police officers, teachers, college students, women religious, parents, detectives, Jewish women leaders, investment managers who promote socially conscious investments, youth and justice leaders. Using video, online demonstrations, PowerPoint, and victims’ stories we explored the way that cell phones, texting, photo sharing, social networks, chat rooms and websites are used in human trafficking.
We opened the day with a wonderful prayer about the gift of technology in all its forms and how it has become a reality of everyday life. Part of this prayer is at the top of this article. Sr. Cathy Minhoto RSCM created the prayer service as well as a wonderful Powerpoint to accompany it.
Sr. Teresa Doherty RSC brought 30 volunteers that work with her at Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall, a jail for young people. Many of these volunteers were also RSC associates. Sr. Bernadette Moran RSC brought the human trafficking committee from her parish along. It was a difficult and sad day for us RSC’s since one of our sisters, Sr. Margaret Mary, was in her last hours and several were not able to attend.
Tracy Webb from the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office gave the keynote address. Tracy heads up the Cyber Crimes Against Children unit. As a mother of two and a prosecutor, her passion to protect youth was tangible. We learned that even without our knowing it, someone can use the camera on your computer to film you.
Two detectives that investigate human trafficking shared cases with us and alerted us to how we can create safer environments for our young people. In the middle of the day, the police got a call to do a rescue of a victim and had to leave the symposium early!
Dr. Susan Keens, a secondary school psychologist spoke to us about the effects of technology on youth. Some youth get so addicted that they lose sleep because they are texting late into the night, playing video games, and find themselves slipping academically.
A survivor shared her story of being trafficked as a young girl. As a mother of three children, she went to college and became an ordained minister. To her shock she discovered that her daughter was trafficked for sex by another teenager. She spoke as a victim and a parent. Her deep faith and dynamic speaking style made for a rousing presentation.
We closed our day by inviting all those present to move into action and later on share what they planned to do with the information gained during the symposium.
We thank you, gracious God,
for creating us in your image and likeness,
with power and creativity and imagination.
We thank you for creation, this ever-expanding cosmos,
with its mysteries and unfolding beauty.
We thank you for our digital world,
where we can “google” bits of knowledge
and learning in nanoseconds;
we thank you for Facebook,
which connects us with friends and family,
receiving news from all across the globe;
we thank you for Twitter and for those who follow our tweets in truly interested and loving ways;
we thank you for our cell phones that enable us to transcend personal and geographic boundaries.
May we use this technology for the good of all,
for life and beauty, justice and blessing. Amen. (written by Sr. Cathy Minhoto RSHM for the symposium)