Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Reality of Teen Dating Violence

By Julie Nauman, VCGCB Executive Officer

43% of College Women Experience
Violence and Abusive Dating Behaviors.
According to a national survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in 10 teenagers admitted to being physically hurt by a dating partner. This is a disturbing statistic that must be addressed. As we observe the third annual National Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, we are dedicated to raising awareness of this critical issue and promoting programs that help prevent it.

Teen victims are at a higher risk for substance abuse, getting poor results in school, eating disorders and even attempts of suicide. Additionally, teens who are abused by their partners are more likely to be victimized in future relationships. Types of abuse include electronic, emotional, physical and sexual.

Awareness is a main factor in prevention. If you are a friend or family member of a teen, encourage him or her to be open about relationships and dating. Make sure he or she knows the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships. Teens cannot be allowed to think that violence is normal.
Learn the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships. Teens cannot be allowed to think that violence is normal.

In addition, pay attention to signs of abuse. Teen victims of abuse may act depressed or fearful, become isolated from friends and family or develop unexplained injuries. Perpetrators may exhibit traits that lead them to be violent, such as moodiness, anger management issues, lack of parental supervision and use of alcohol or drugs.

If you know a teen that is being victimized by dating violence, encourage him or her to get help. LoveisRespect.org offers a 24-hour support line for questions and help regarding teen dating violence.

There are many opportunities for you take action in preventing teen dating violence this month. Learn more at TeenDVmonth.org.
Julie Nauman is the Executive Officer for the Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board (VCGCB). VCGCB provides compensation for victims of violent crime and helps to resolve claims against the State.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Leaders Collaborate to Provide Hope and Healing to Victims of Human Trafficking

By Julie Nauman, VCGCB Executive Officer

I am pleased to be joining Courage Worldwide Founder and CEO Jenny Williamson, along with Sacramento County District Attorney Jan Scully, FBI Innocence Lost Task Force Supervisory Special Agent Mike Rayfield, Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones, and others this afternoon to share our dedication to fight human trafficking by putting criminals behind bars, working to find an end to these crimes, and providing healing services to survivors.

Victims of trafficking can often be mistaken as willing participants, but that is simply not true. Force, cohersion, manipulation, fear and false love encroach upon victims and can force them into something in which they never wanted to take part.

This afternoon I will share CalVCP’s steadfast effort to provide much needed assistance to survivors through financial assistance for mental health counseling, relocation and medical services. Teams from Sacramento, Denver, Las Vegas, and Washington DC will present on The Anatomy of a Case (featuring a survivor and key witness in a trafficking prosecution), Victim Centered Investigations, Profile of a Victim & Redefining Success with This Population, and Women Trafficking Women.

The informative training will further educate our California partners including first responders, prosecutors, attorneys, judges and probations officers about the true ugliness of human trafficking and will look to strengthen our combined resources to provide survivors with the hope and healing they need.

I am honored to work in a state dedicated to educate, equip and empower its leaders and community members to make a tangible difference in the lives of voiceless victims.

Portrait of Julie Nauman
Julie Nauman is the Executive Officer for the Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board (VCGCB). VCGCB provides compensation for victims of violent crime and helps to resolve claims against the State.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Enslaved Californians: The Fight Against Human Trafficking

To view a trailer for the documentary, please visit the San Bernardino County District Attorney YouTube Channel.
For some time, there has been the misconception that human trafficking is an evil that only happens in faraway countries; but make no mistake, it is happening right here in our own county and across our nation. Last week, following the premiere of a short documentary our office produced, we took significant steps and strengthened existing partnerships to send the message that if you commit this horrendous crime in our county you will be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.

Part of my plan includes the creation of a Human Trafficking Vertical Prosecution Unit, providing training and outreach to teachers and students, and releasing the names and photos of those convicted of solicitation of prostitution.

DA Ramos and VCGCB Executive Officer Julie Nauman discuss the harsh realities of human trafficking with KPCC radio.
Our battle against human trafficking started in 2009 when my office took a leadership role to respond to this problem and created the county’s Coalition Against Sexual Exploitation (CASE). Thanks to the hard work of all our partners involved in CASE, we have made significant strides by changing the way we as a legal community look at victims of human trafficking. It used to be that victims lured into prostitution were viewed as criminals. Fortunately, those perceptions are changing.

One of the difficult aspects of identifying victims of human trafficking is the underground nature of the crime itself, fueled in part by the prevalence of the Internet and social media. For example, in 2012, 338 prostitution-related cases were filed in San Bernardino County, the majority of which were the result of proactive sting operations conducted by those law enforcement agencies with known prostitution tracks in their jurisdiction. An additional 27 cases involved minors. While this number includes those soliciting sex and those offering sexual services, it's important to point out that it only denotes those who were caught and subsequently arrested.

The CASE banner, displayed at the Teenage $ex 4 Sale documentary premiere.
The number of pimping cases is even smaller. Last year, 15 cases related to pimping and pandering were filed. But we know the problem is bigger—much bigger. The low risks and potential for high profits associated with trafficking are steering criminals away from smuggling drugs and guns, which are generally riskier pursuits. Simply put, from the standpoint of these monsters, why run drugs and guns, a one-time deal, when they can use a trafficked victim over and over? In the eyes of the traffickers, these victims are nothing more than a reusable commodity.

Fortunately, when we are able to rescue the victims, there are services and support made available through the California Victim Compensation Program (CalVCP). Through this fund, we are able to assist victims with health issues related to being sexually brutalized and/or assaulted. In many cases, funds may be available for medical and hospital expenses, relocation, dental work, mental health counseling, and physical therapy. I have been a board member with VCGCB for the last eight years, and one of the great things I have come to appreciate about this fund is that it is paid for by restitution fines levied on criminal defendants—not one cent is taken from taxpayer dollars. As we move forward with a deeper understanding of human trafficking and how it negatively affects our children and our communities, it is important to remember that this is outright modern day slavery, and I look forward to serving our victims and bringing the perpetrators who commit these terrible crimes to justice.

Learn more about the Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit on our website.

For the past eleven years, Michael Ramos has served as San Bernardino County District Attorney. During this time, he has fought corruption and made victims' rights, public safety, and anti-gang programs the cornerstone of his office.

In 2011, Governor Jerry Brown appointed District Attorney Ramos to the Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission (POST), which was established by the Legislature in 1959 to set minimum selection and training standards for California law enforcement. District Attorney Ramos is also member of the California Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board and represents the State of California on the National District Attorneys Association Board of Directors where he serves as co-chair of the committee for corrections and prison re-entry.