April 14, 2016 -Springfield, Mass- Hampden District Attorney Anthony D. Gulluni will kick off this year’s Victims’ Rights Conference with introductory remarks at 8:30 a.m. This year’s conference will focus on the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC). The conference is co-sponsored by the Hampden District Attorney’s Office and Baystate Health.
The conference is designed for health care, mental health, law enforcement and school professionals. It is intended to provide the said audience with the tools and skills in recognizing and accessing the necessary resources for suspected children victimized by exploitation.
The conference comes at a time when law enforcement at both the national, state and local levels are implementing new and inventive strategies to combat human trafficking. In February, U.S Attorney Carmen Ortiz, Hampden District Attorney Anthony Gulluni and the Office of Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey announced the formation of the Western Mass Human Trafficking Task Force.
Hampden District Attorney Anthony Gulluni stated, “I am proud to co-sponsor this event to raise awareness around the exploitation of some of our most vulnerable residents. This is an issue that often goes unnoticed and unreported do to fear and intimidation used by exploiters and the reluctance of victims in reporting these types of crimes. Hopefully the steps we are taking here in Hampden County will have an impact in rooting out those who exploit children.”
The commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) is both a domestic and international problem. By some estimates, sex trafficking victimizes total more than 200,000 children in the United States annually. Identifying victims of sex trafficking can be difficult because of a general lack of public awareness about the issue; the reluctance of many exploited children to identify themselves as victims; and extreme measures taken by exploiters to hide their victims and their crimes. On average, children first fall victim to CSEC between ages 12 and 14 and many come from vulnerable populations with a history of abuse.