NORFOLK, VA – Norfolk Public Library (NPL) is now a certified OnWatch™ Advocate after training more than 90 percent of staff on how to spot, report and prevent trafficking through the survivor-led OnWatch™ education platform—launched nationally last year by the Malouf Foundation and Safe House Project. As a certified Advocate, Norfolk Public Library is committed to the fight against trafficking, one of the world’s fastest-growing criminal enterprises.
NPL began efforts to raise awareness of human trafficking in October 2020. NPL leadership wanted to ensure staff understood the many forms of human trafficking, and how to identify and help those in need. Staff watched an Intimate Partner Violence presentation, through a partnership with Samaritan House, and NPL hosted the same presentation virtually for the Norfolk community.
Roy B. Martin, IV, NPL Board Chair, worked with the Safe House Project and suggested the partnership. The OnWatch™ training consisted of 10 videos of victims telling their stories. Each story was different and unique. For example, the staff learned that not all victims know their abuser or come from the same socioeconomic background, race or gender.
OnWatch™ Executive Director and Safe House Project COO Britany Dunn said, “We congratulate Norfolk Public Library for reaching 90 percent and other groups working toward certification. Most importantly, we appreciate their determination to watch for the signs of trafficking and to report these situations to law enforcement. The more people who commit to this cause, the more survivors we can identify so they can get the help they need.”
Director of Libraries Sonal Rastogi said, “I am pleased to have this partnership with the Safe House Project because it enables Norfolk Public Library to provide another service to the community, and that is, doing our part to end trafficking. We have long understood that many people flowing through our doors view libraries as safe places to go. Becoming a certified OnWatch™ Advocate has empowered staff who completed training to spot signs of human trafficking and to respond appropriately.”
Corporations, organizations, and other groups can sign up for the OnWatch™ Advocate Program at IAmOnWatch.org/Groups. For more information, email email@example.com.