Representing 17 member Leagues across the state and acting on behalf of their nearly 10,000 members, the Junior Leagues of California State Public Affairs Committee advocates for policies that improve the lives of California women, children and families, including initiatives against human trafficking.

Why did CalSPAC become involved in the fight against human trafficking?

Because the data was simply too hard to ignore: California is one of the top four states in the nation for trafficking of human beings and harbors three of the FBI’s highest child sex trafficking areas in the United States: Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego. We quickly realized this was a cross cutting issue that affected many children in the foster care system where we have been focused.

When did you get involved?

In 2010, then Co-Chair Cat Carlton, attended a human trafficking educational event in the bay area hosted by Representative Jackie Speier. She brought the issue back to the delegation who realized that many of the foster youth SPAC had been advocating for were impacted. In 2012 CalSPAC sponsored AB 1940 (Hill) and strongly supported AB 2040 (Swanson) which sealed minor victims records. In 2013 CalSPAC adopted a formal positing statement on human trafficking which states that “SPAC is committed to ending human trafficking in all its forms. SPAC supports policies and programs that stop human trafficking, advocate for victims, and educate the community at large.” Additionally in 2013, CalSPAC created and deployed human trafficking curriculum for member leagues and sponsored SB 738 (Yee) to build a statewide framework to move in the direction of treating commercially sexually exploited children as victims not criminals. Since 2010 CalSPAC has supported 13 bills related to human trafficking in the state legislature of which 7 were enacted resulting in the addition of human trafficking to K-12 educational curriculum, victim protection and criminal penalty augmentation.

What are you working on now?

In 2014 CalSPAC co-sponsored AB 2035 (as a continuation of SB 738) with the Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking – LA. The bill, authored by Assembly Member Wesley Chesbro, passed both the Senate and Assembly with unanimous bipartisan support. It would have protected both labor- and sex-trafficked youth including providing training and support to group home administrators, since so many of these vulnerable youth are susceptible to trafficking.

Despite an overwhelming grassroots campaign from our member Leagues and coalition partners Governor Jerry Brown ultimately vetoed the bill. He issued a statement acknowledging that this year’s budget provides funding for minor sex trafficking victims and directed the Department of Social Services (DSS) to convene stakeholders to “curb the tragedy of young people forced to work under illegal and unacceptable conditions.” CalSPAC is participating in DSS’ Taskforce on Child Labor Trafficking and we remain committed to advocate and educate to stop human trafficking.

Concurrently, our member Leagues are engaged locally in educational awareness programs and advocacy within their own communities. See details below on recent activities by CalSPAC member Leagues.

The Junior League of Bakersfield (JLB) is educating members at monthly membership general meetings.

The Junior League of Fresno (JLF) held a human trafficking forum at a membership general meeting.

The Junior League of Long Beach (JLLB) scheduled Opal Singleton, CEO of Million Kids, to speak at its October general membership meeting to educate members on current trends in human trafficking. The membership will also support Long Beach’s Human Trafficking Task Force during Human Trafficking Awareness Month at its Youth Exploitation Safety Symposium (Yess!) by assisting kids in breakout sessions.

The Junior League of Napa-Sonoma (JLNS) is a member of the Sonoma County Human Trafficking Task Force, a multidisciplinary team working to raise awareness, advocate for victims and end human trafficking in the community. As a member of the task force, JLNS helps to organize periodic forums and rallies and has supported other community awareness campaigns such as local billboards. JLNS shares information about human trafficking and the efforts of the task force at general membership meetings on an annual basis.

The Junior League of Oakland East Bay (JLOEB) hosted a human trafficking forum with Oakland Deputy Mayor Sandré Swanson, Contra Costa County Deputy District Attorney Chad Mahalich, and Venus Rodriquez of MISSSEY: Motivating, Inspiring, Supporting and Serving Sexually Exploited Youth.

The Junior League of Orange County (JLOCC) hosted the beginning of its Survivors Speak Series in September with Jim Carson, the Rising Tide Community Coordinator of the Orangewood Children’s Foundation, and two trafficking survivors. Additionally, JLOCC supported a graduation ceremony for local survivors who completed a two-year training on recapturing a “normal” life. In October, JLOCC took part in A21’s Walk for Freedom at Downtown Disney in Anaheim and co-sponsored, with the Orange County District Attorney’s Office, the Keep Calm and Beat H.E.A.T Concert and Rally at Chapman University in Orange. JLOCC will also be hosting the anti-trafficking documentary “Tricked” in Newport Beach while embarking on other efforts during Human Trafficking Awareness Month.

The Junior League of Sacramento (JLS) is educating its members and the community and collaborated with Courage Worldwide Inc. to put on a film screening of the anti-trafficking documentary “In Plain Sight.”  

The Junior League of San Jose (JLSJ) educated members on the impact of human trafficking by screening the anti-trafficking documentary “Carissa” and recruited Betty Ann Boeving, Founder & Executive Director of the Bay Area Anti-Trafficking Coalition (BAATC), to run anti-trafficking awareness training at the October general membership meeting. JLSJ will also assist BAATC with airport trainings in the Bay Area and participate in the 2015 Freedom Summit.

The Junior League of San Diego (JLSD) is an active member of the San Diego County Human Trafficking Task Force, which strives to take a collaborative, cross-cutting effort on anti-trafficking efforts in San Diego County. JLSD representatives frequently attend Bilateral Safety Corridor Coalition meetings and partner with San Diego Youth Services – Surviving Together, Achieving and Reaching for Success (STARS), which provides support to empower youth to escape sexual exploitation. JLSD also hosts an annual Human Trafficking Awareness Rally in January. Additionally, JLSD hosts annual community impact forums to bring awareness to human trafficking and its relationship to youth in the foster care system.

The Junior League of San Francisco’s (JLSF) Advocacy Committee has trained members through film screenings, including the documentary “Not My Life”, and panels featuring anti-trafficking advocates and resources in the Bay Area. JLSF’s boardsupported a city/county ordinance targeting massage parlors where trafficking can occur and also participated, in coordination with the San Francisco Department on the Status of Women, in efforts to ensure compliance with state laws requiring anti-trafficking posters with hotline information are posted in targeted businesses. JLSF is a sponsor of the Enough Abuse Campaign, a movement to prevent child sexual abuse in the Bay Area, with the San Francisco Child Abuse Prevention Council.

The Junior League of Santa Barbara (JLSB) is educating its membership via monthly CalSPAC updates at general membership meetings and speaker trainings.