This article originally appeared in the Press Enterprise, January 2022.

Magdalena’s Daughters has a vision of eliminating human trafficking and providing female victims of sex trafficking and those at risk of sexual exploitation the means to have healthy relationships and thrive. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, while unable to hold events and meet in person, the organization has focused on human trafficking prevention. Magdalena’s Daughters hopes to reduce the number of youth victims of human trafficking by providing education and prevention programming.

Once a week, a team of seven community members meets to work on a 10-module human trafficking prevention curriculum for middle school and high school students. The curriculum includes animation and stories from survivors of trafficking. The team is made up of survivors, social workers, law enforcement and includes a parent advocate who gives the perspective of having a child who was a victim and provides personal insight.

“Our plan is to get the curriculum completed by this spring to make it engaging for kids,” the organization’s founder Ashley Hill said. “It’s such a polarizing topic and we don’t want kids to be bored or scared.”

According to Hill, schools are required to include sex trafficking education as a topic in sex education programs. Once the curriculum is completed, Magdalena’s Daughters plans to pilot the program with volunteer students and parents to refine it this summer. The organization wants to make sure parents are comfortable with the programming and that children find it engaging. Individuals interested in being a part of the pilot program and providing feedback can contact the organization for more information.

Once the human trafficking prevention program has been piloted, Magdalena’s Daughters plans to approach schools, sharing the importance of teaching and educating youth as a means of prevention. If the organization is able to launch the program next school year, a clinician and a survivor will be available to teach the curriculum.

According to Hill human trafficking has pivoted to online platforms to find victims during the pandemic, which makes education on the topic even more important.

“Our children are online throughout the day and are in danger of traffickers and predators approaching them, befriending them, and grooming them for sexual exploitation,” Hill said.

Recently, Magdalena’s Daughters received a grant from the Black Equity Fund through the Inland Empire Community Foundation to provide support and education for diversity and equity. According to Hill, 62% of victims of human trafficking are Black. There is a need for community programming that addresses providing support to females at high-risk. It is also important to amplify the voices of youth, Hill said.

The organization also believes that data is a critical component of creating programming. Magdalena’s Daughter is partnering with California State University, San Bernardino to conduct research to understand the needs of foster youth, determine their primary reason for becoming runaways and establish the best means to assist them. This research could ultimately help to guide policy.

Ultimately, Magdalena’s Daughters plans to provide housing for female foster youth between the ages of 12 and 18 who are victims or at risk of sex trafficking. As a young nonprofit, the organization will need community support to obtain the necessary funds to accomplish this goal.

Those interested in finding out more about the organization, supporting its work, or attending future events can subscribe to their newsletter through their website and attend future community events.

“The pandemic hasn’t stopped us,” Hill said. “We have been making strides in building connections with stakeholders and are committed to fighting human trafficking in youth.”

More information: https://www.magdalenasdaughters.org/ or 909-906-0472