Vista Unified’s Michelle Walsh Speaks at Anti-Human Trafficking Collaborative Meeting
Thursday, November 2, 2017–Kaye Van Nevel welcomed Guest Speaker Michelle Walsh and about 30 attendees! Michelle brought her entire team from VUSD to the meeting:
Guest Speaker: Michelle Walsh,
Coordinator of Student Support Services,
Vista Unified School District (VUSD)
Michelle supports students who are parenting, expelled, incarcerated, homeless, in foster care, in military families or identify as LGVTQ. She spoke of the high numbers of youth who are vulnerable to human trafficking, both labor and commercial sexual exploitation. State-wide studies reveal 1% of students in foster care have been lured into “the life” of human trafficking. In the VUSD, that jumps to 25%! These children are obviously in high risk, due to multiple factors like abandonment, abuse, trauma, physical and mental. They come to the District’s attention due to elevated truancy records. Michelle told us that this begins in their earliest years, so by the time they reach middle and high school, their attitudes are easily swayed away from educational commitments. While many school districts lack the staff to address these young people, VUSD has 21 counselors, 15 assistant principal advocates, 5 school social workers, interns and 3 R.N’s. It is a model for the state!
• Terri Nash alerted us about a Department of Defense Drill the weekend of November 4/5 titled Communications Interoperability Training with Amateur Radio Community Set which could possibly affect electricity service.
• Jacque Howard offered materials for distribution: “Warning Signs that Someone is a Victim of Human Trafficking”
• Judy Horning told us about the STAT screening of SOLD at SDSU on November 2.
• Kaye gave a brief legislative report noting that SB 270, which required hotels and motels to train personnel on recognizing signs of human trafficking, was killed. She went on to explain that this information is available and in use by the SD Advisory Council’s Safe Committee which meets with hotel management to encourage them to conduct in-house training for their employees to recognize traffickers who are using their facilities to use victims for sexual exploitation.
• The S.O.A.P. project was also mentioned. Please go to their website for more information. This is an area of action! https://www.soapproject.org/
• Kaye has been in contact with the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota, who are working with the Super Bowl Committee members to alleviate Human Trafficking during Super Bowl. She suggested team members wearing a specific color or logo to raise awareness about human trafficking.
Saturday, January 20, 2018: Soroptimist International of Vista and North County Inland’s 12th Annual Human Trafficking Awareness Walk, Wave Water Park, 12:30-3:00 p.m. Guest Speaker: Jaimee Johnson
March 8: Palomar College, Screening of SOLD. More information to come.
Next Meeting: January 4, 2018, 9 am – 10:30 am at United Methodist Church of Vista, 490 Melrose, Vista, CA, (Fellowship Hall, lower level).