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‘Enough’ provides safe space for young individuals

New program combats sexual exploitation and trafficking

The+YMCA+of+the+Twin+Cities+is+partnering+with+Safe+Harbor+Minnesota+to+combat+sexual+violence+at+select+YMCA+locations.+For+more+information+about+the+program+visit+ymcamn.org.
The YMCA of the Twin Cities is partnering with Safe Harbor Minnesota to combat sexual violence at select YMCA locations. For more information about the program visit ymcamn.org.

The YMCA of the Twin Cities is partnering with Safe Harbor Minnesota to combat sexual violence at select YMCA locations. For more information about the program visit ymcamn.org.

Hanna Schechter

Hanna Schechter

The YMCA of the Twin Cities is partnering with Safe Harbor Minnesota to combat sexual violence at select YMCA locations. For more information about the program visit ymcamn.org.

Hanna Schechter

According to Sophia Maceda, a youth support specialist at the YMCA’s new Youth intervention service program, Enough, the program will support youths across Minnesota.

“Enough is a program that works individually with young people age 24 and under who need support because they have experienced or (are) at risk of experiencing sexual exploitation and/or trafficking,” Maceda said.

Maceda said Safe Harbor Minnesota provides funding for their program and other organizations throughout Minnesota.

“We work in partnership (with Safe Harbor Minnesota), so that is our funding source, and there are a bunch of other organizations across the metro who also have grants through Safe Harbor, and so we work very collaboratively with other organizations,” Maceda said.

Junior Maddie Hoffman said she believes Enough gives exploited youths an opportunity to talk with someone about their experiences in a safe environment.

“I think that there’s a need for this everywhere (because) people are afraid to come out and say what has happened to them,” Hoffman said.  “If this (program) is going to help them then I think that it’s important.”

Maceda said Enough provides different services to youth depending on the specific needs of each young individual.

“The biggest example of what we do is provide case management services, and we work with the young person to determine what are the goals in their case,” Maceda said. “We are working in the one-to-one capacity to support them wherever they’re at, whether they are currently being exploited, whether they were exploited in the past and kind of  have left that lifestyle or maybe they’re just at risk.”Maceda said Enough also provides young individuals with a safe space to meet other youths in a positive way.

“We also help provide a safe space for social activities for our young people to have positive interactions with their peers and other caring adults. In addition, we provide opportunities to develop independent living skills through various workshops that we put on as well,” Maceda said.

According to freshman Michael Boxley-Harmon, he believes safe spaces are where students can feel free to express themselves and receive support.

“It makes you feel safe, and it’s going to help you get where you need to be and make you happy,” Boxley-Harmon said.

Maceda said it’s important to note the difference between sexual exploitation and sex trafficking.

“Sexual exploitation is trading a sexual act for the promise of anything of value or something of value, whereas trafficking only is different because it involves a third party,” Maceda said.

Boxley-Harmon said knowing the correct terminology will help bring awareness to the issue.  

“I feel like if (people) know the definitions of the words it’s going to make the world much more aware,” Boxley-Harmon said. “Showing awareness is going to help Park kids stay out of (becoming) sexually exploited or sex trafficked.”

According to Hoffman, Park students should know the difference between sexual exploitation and sex trafficking.

“It’s important to know the difference because they are both serious issues, but it’s different. You have to treat them in different ways,” Hoffman said.  

According to Maceda, high school students should be aware of these issues because sexual exploitation and trafficking can happen to anyone.

“Young people are at a very vulnerable age, and I think it’s important that young people know what those definitions are because how could they recognize what might be happening to them or a friend if they don’t even know the definitions of what it is,” Maceda said.

According to Maceda, education is the first step to stopping unwanted sexual interactions.

I think it’s really important that young people are being educated on this topic so they can recognize what some of their own vulnerabilities might be and they can recognize signs of someone who might be trying to exploit them and they can also recognize and look out for their peers and their loved ones,” Maceda said.

Boxley-Harmon said he thinks awareness is the key to stopping sexual exploitation and trafficking.

“I think it’s important because I feel like a lot of people don’t know about it, and I feel like it can be stopped if there’s more awareness,” Boxley-Harmon said.

Hoffman said Park students should look out for one another and become educated on this issue.

“We should just care about our peers and our community. We all live in one community and it’s important to just support each other,” Hoffman said.

According to Maceda, if a youth is in need of help they can call the Minnesota Day One Crisis Hotline at 1-866-223-1111 (text: 612-399-9995) for help concerning sexual assault, human trafficking and domestic violence.

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‘Enough’ provides safe space for young individuals