On Tuesday, Oct. 23, Franciscan University of Steubenville alumna Eileen Spencer spoke to a large crowd about human trafficking and encouraged the attendees to take action against it.
Spencer, who has a degree in mental health and human services, shared eye-opening information with the group of over 70 students and faculty through her human trafficking awareness talk. She engaged the crowd by tossing around a paper ball which had on it facts and myths about human trafficking in order to initiate discussions and questions.
The main focus of Spencer’s talk was an ardent call to the university family to partake in preventing human trafficking.
She said that buyers were the reason she was speaking out. “Without the buyer, the traffickers wouldn’t be seeking out victims,” said Spencer.
The best first step, she explained, is to believe all children who claim to be abused because it is better to be overly cautious than to have a child suffer because no one believed him or her. Also, Spencer called on attendees to be a lifeline for people who are potentially being abused. Simply opening oneself up as a listening ear may be enough to make a difference in someone’s life.
Spencer also said that students can make a difference in the future in their own families. “(College students) are responsible for derailing this madness,” she said, explaining that students can take part by protecting their future children from dangers created by technology.
Spencer’s advice comes from real life experience, as she works at A Caring Place in Wintersville, Ohio, which she described as “a safe, comfortable, private, child-friendly environment for child abuse victims and their families.”
Spencer brought her mission’s urgency closer to home when she shared that Ohio has the 4th highest documentation of human trafficking victims in the nation. However, she explained, local law enforcement is aware, and awareness is the most important part of defeating this crime.
After the talk, freshman Katie Collin said, “I definitely commend the speaker for all she does. Her job sounds hard with all the stories she hears, but her work doesn’t go unnoticed.”
Freshman Emily Bowman also attended the talk and went away with more insight than just the red flags of human trafficking. “I learned that it’s even more of a problem than I thought it was, and I learned just how important it is that we know these things,” she said.
The event coordinator, Kateri Spencer, was “astounded” by the attendance, and she said the night “exceeded her expectations.” Her advice to those who could not attend the event is to “reach out to someone and learn more about human trafficking and how we can be better aware.”
A black-tie fundraiser will be held on Nov. 10 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. for Sarah’s House, a home for female victims in need of safety and an escape.