New Program Helps Hawaii’s Young Male Victims of Sex Trafficking
News Release from ChildrensAllianceHawaii.org
(Honolulu, Hawaii) December 3, 2015 – According to the U.S. Department of Justice, there are an estimated 100,000 to 300,000 children trafficked for sexual exploitation in the United States each year. More than half of these victims are underage, with the average age of entry into prostitution being 12 years old. Because Hawaii is booming with international business and tourism, it has become a prime target for sex traffickers. In response to this issue, The Children’s Alliance of Hawaii (CAH) recently launched Ho`omaka for Boys, a new program that advocates for and empowers sexually abused male children and adolescents ages 9 to 21 living on Oahu.
“Resilience is a central point in Ho’omaka for Boys given that based on best practices and resiliency theory, it assists sexually abused youth who are struggling with life circumstances and direction,” said C. Kent Coarsey, CAH President and Executive Director. “The goal is to help nurture and transform these children and adolescents into resilient and empowered youth.”
Ho’omaka matches male victims of sexual abuse or sex trafficking with a professional mentor for at least 12 months. Mentors and mentees meet weekly for one or two hour scheduled sessions, with the amount and length of sessions adjustable to fit individual needs. After developing a healthy, trustful and caring relationship with their mentors, these boys and young men will learn and practice how to make well-informed decisions, create quality relationships with adults and peers and set personal goals.
Building a trusting relationship between mentor and mentee is especially important because, as noted in a 2008 study by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice titled “The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in New York City,” many sexually abused boys and young men don’t see themselves as children or as victims, which makes it difficult to get them to seek assistance from service providers. The study also points out the societal stigmas, or perceived stigmas, associated with male prostitution and homosexuality are hurdles in male victims seeking treatment.
Mentoring sessions are activity-based and are chosen to match a mentee’s interests, strengths, and/or goals. Activities include but are not limited to: hiking, studying, going to the beach, fishing, playing sports and volunteering. In addition, mentoring sessions will include topic structured discussions on short-term and long-term goal-setting, healthy relationships, healthy sexuality, teen pregnancy/STD prevention and assertive communication.
The expected and favorable short-term outcome of Ho’omaka is that 60 percent of participants who attend at least 16 sessions will experience increased self-efficacy and self-esteem. They will be able to identify personal strengths and have formulated and initiated a personal plan. For 80 percent of participants who attend at least 24 sessions, the hope is that they experience an increase in resiliency.
As for the long-term outcome, CAH hopes mentoring sexually abused male children and adolescents will enhance the continuity of an integrated system of comprehensive services, protecting victims by reducing the negative effects of past sexual abuse as well as reducing the risk of further abuse.
CAH collaborates with many local organizations and individuals for client referrals, case management, advocacy and program funding. Ho’omaka received grants from the City & County of Honolulu, Aloha United Way Impact Funding, Atherton Family Foundation, Hawaiian Electric Industries Charitable Foundation, Ganote Investment Family Trust and First Presbyterian Church of Honolulu.
The Children's Alliance of Hawaii positively impacts the lives of children who have been sexually abused in our community through successful partnerships and programs designed to leave a lasting legacy of healing, encouragement and optimism. For over 25 years, the Children’s Alliance of Hawaii has provided care and support with the belief that each child is resilient, creative, courageous and strong and deserves every opportunity to thrive to their fullest potential. To learn more or find out how you can help, visit ChildrensAllianceHawaii.org or Facebook.com/TheChildrensAllianceOfHawaii.