OU-Tulsa Offers “Unique” Child Trafficking Conference

Wednesday, February 13th 2019, 7:58 pm
By: Amy Slanchik

About 100 Tulsans are taking a new approach in the fight against human trafficking.

A conference at OU-Tulsa provided simulations where nurses, social workers, and counselors worked with paid actors to practice working with human trafficking victims.

It gave people like Paula Royce an opportunity to practice her work.

ROYCE: "I'm really glad that you're safe. I'm glad you're back here with us.

ACTOR: “Thank you."

Royce works at the Tulsa County Juvenile Bureau as the Female Programming Coordinator. She is also Tulsa Human Trafficking Task Force co-chair.

ROYCE: "I'm watching you look at your watch. Do you need to be somewhere?

ACTOR: "Oh yea. I don't have a lot of time."

Dr. Jordan Greenbaum is kept an eye on the simulations from another room. She spoke at the Haruv-USA lecture series. 

"We can sit and talk about something, you can hear it, you can read it, and that's all very well and good, but you can forget it in 20 minutes,” she said. “But to actually get really practical information, about what exactly do you say in this situation?"

Royce works with human trafficking victims on every day the Tulsa County Juvenile Bureau.

"It's a horrific crime that's happening in our community,” Royce said.

The conference allowed people like school nurses and counselors, who may not interact with victims as often, to learn to identify and prevent child trafficking.

"It really gives you confidence to not be so afraid when it actually happens in real life,” Greenbaum said.

Greenbaum, who came to Tulsa from Atlanta, said the conference is unique.

"I think there are other places in the country that have done this, but it's very unique to human trafficking to develop for this. And to have it at a conference I think is really, really special."

Royce says she treated the actor in the exercise exactly the way she would treat real victims, by trusting and believing what they say.

"I work with a number of girls who have reported horrific incidents in the past that were not believed by their caregiver or by someone. And so if that continues to happen, then they're never gonna report again,” Royce said.

OU-Tulsa says Haruv USA plans to host the conference again next year and make it an annual event.