CHPA’s John Ducoff: Stop blaming trafficking victims

“The premise of those who would blame these trafficking survivors is that they must have chosen this life, so they are accountable for the consequences of that decision. Nothing could be further from the truth. A trafficking survivor isn’t like the streetwise lady of the night with a heart of gold depicted in movies and on TV. These are kids who have been thrown out on the street by the people who were supposed to care for them until a trafficker snatches them up and delivers this chillingly effective threat: do this or I’ll kill you and everyone you ever cared about. Or the trafficker who convinces this vulnerable child that he loves her and tells her that she’d do this for him if she truly loved him too. That’s not choice. That’s fraud and coercion, compulsion and victimization.”




CHPA’s John Ducoff raises awareness about importance of counting homeless youth, cautions that count is just the beginning.

“Despite the shift to beginning the point-in-time count of homeless youth up to age 24 at 3 p.m. instead of overnight in an attempt to engage more young people, staffers from Covenant House Pennsylvania, which provides shelter and services for homeless youth ages 18 to 21, said counts historically find only a small fraction of young people who are truly experiencing homelessness.

“It’s still very likely to be an under-count … It’s an invisible population,” Covenant House Pennsylvania Executive Director John Ducoff said. “[On average,] we serve 500 youth a year and turn away 400 more.”

Ducoff said that during the weekend blizzard alone, seven homeless young people sought refuge at Covenant House’s Germantown-based crisis shelter, and that in fiscal year 2015, the shelter served 512 homeless teens and young adults, but turned away another 249 kids, plus 127 homeless young mothers and their children and 43 homeless young women who were pregnant due to lack of space.

“Obviously, it’s the thing that keeps me up at night. It’s the thing that we’re working on,” Ducoff said. “We have to do more.”