Educators Summit a Success

February 13, 2024



Gracehaven Gives Guests An “A” for Advocacy at Inaugural Event

“We are saving lives. It’s not the war on drugs. It’s the war on saving lives. This human trafficking is a call to save lives. Children are innocent and should be able to lead a very fulfilling life.”

— Kenneth Parker, U.S. Attorney, Southern District of Ohio


U.S. Attorney Kenneth L. Parker is in the fight to end human trafficking, and as keynote speaker, he urged those attending Gracehaven’s first Columbus Area Educators Human Trafficking Awareness Summit on Jan. 31st to learn all they can and stay vigilant and hopeful on behalf of the youth they serve. Parker is the chief federal law enforcement officer for the Southern District of Ohio, which includes Cincinnati, Dayton and Columbus.

“Don’t let anybody tell you … that we’re going to lose the war on human trafficking,” Parker told the room full of teachers, school administrators, counselors and social workers who sometimes find themselves on the front lines of detecting and intercepting child exploitation.

“Educators have the unique opportunity of seeing a child nearly every day of the week,” added Gracehaven Community Outreach Director Hannah Swift. “Sometimes they get to spend more one-on-one time with youth than their parents do. This means school staff have a front row seat to a child’s life, and they could be the first to recognize changes in a student’s mood, behavior, friend group, performance or attendance.”

Last fiscal year, Homeland Security Investigations initiated 1,350 human trafficking investigations, assisted more than 750 victims of human trafficking and arrested more than 3,650 traffickers. Armed with better knowledge of spotting and stopping trafficking situations, Parker said active communities and engaged individuals can help his office and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security more effectively prosecute perpetrators and protect at-risk youth.

Community Connections

The Educators Summit was driven in large part by Student Success Coordinator Jacqueline Jenkins of Franklinton Prep, located on Chicago Avenue in Columbus. In a community often affected by crime, Jenkins says she’s seen first-hand how vulnerable students can be to trafficking situations. She also knows now that child sex and labor trafficking can happen in all neighborhoods and across all demographics.

“I’ve learned so much from Gracehaven in the past year or more,” Jenkins said. “It has really tugged on my heart strings.” Jenkins has invited Gracehaven’s Prevention Education team to speak with Franklinton Prep students several times about the danger signs of trafficking and how not to get taken advantage of.

From Awareness to Action

Last August Jenkins attended a day-long strategic action planning event with Gracehaven and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. Federal, state and local partners collaborated on how to improve the experience of child sex-trafficking survivors navigating the juvenile justice system.

“The more we talked as a group, the more apparent it became that truancy is a common factor in the stories of many trafficked youth,” said Gracehaven Community Outreach Director Hannah Swift. “For some, truancy is one of the earliest and most recognizable signs that something is wrong.”

“We brainstormed about how to get the word out about this, and I saw how I could help,” added Jenkins. To better equip her fellow educators, she rallied Gracehaven and other anti-trafficking organizations and community support groups to collaborate on a Summit in time for National Human Trafficking Prevention and Awareness Month (January).

The free event attracted about 75 people and offered networking opportunities, as well as informative break-out sessions:

  • Kyra Crockett-Hodge of Huckleberry House presented on “Addressing the Needs of Homeless and Runaway Youth.”
  • She Has a Name’s Courtney Schmackers presented “Trauma-Responsive Care” and “Why People Solicit Sex” while SHAN’s Angus McKay piloted a new presentation on “Reducing the Demand for Sex Trafficking.”
  • Gracehaven’s own team of Iris DeLawrence, Micayla Wilson, and Hannah Swift presented on “Social Media and Sex Trafficking,” “Advocating for Survivors,” and “Foster Care and Human Trafficking.”

Summit attendees said they are already looking forward to bringing more colleagues with them to next year’s event, with a few administrators and guidance counselors from local schools offering high praise for the training they received. “It was some of the best professional development I’ve ever participated in,” one educator shared.

Multiple media outlets reported on the Summit including Spectrum News. Watch the story here.


Getting Involved as an Educator or Everyday Citizen

Thank you for being eyes, ears and voices for youth who need help, whether in classrooms, hallways or neighborhoods. Students need supportive adults who are willing to: stay consistent even when it is challenging; advocate on their behalf; find creative solutions; teach appropriate coping strategies; and help them access necessary resources, like those made available at our Educators Summit. By supporting Gracehaven, you allow us to provide these events and resources to Ohio youth and those who serve them statewide.

As Ohio’s sole “safe house” and specialty care provider for sex-trafficked youth, Gracehaven also offers an on-campus school, academic support and credit recovery assistance at our therapeutic residential group home.

Please reach out to Gracehaven today at to schedule a prevention education session for your school, business, church or club. There are many other ways to engage with us, as well … from attending upcoming tours and learning lunches, volunteering and even rappelling off a skyscraper this summer or being a corporate sponsor of our annual Over The Edge fundraising event!

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