Interview with Michael Sheline

The ESC team is super excited about the conference. We’re excited because we’re grateful to have the opportunity to bring together so many people around this issue, and we’re also really excited about being able to bring in tons of amazing speakers and presenters to speak. One of the speakers I’m most excited to hear is Michael Sheline, the Assistant Section Chief in the Ohio Attorney General’s Crime Victims Services Section. As the Assistant Chief, he administers the federal and state Victims of Crimes Act funding and the Ohio Rape Crisis Trust Fund, which provides over $20 million annuals to organizations serving survivors of violent crimes. He also assists in developing policy and legislation related to victimization. Mr. Sheline has a special interest in shaping policy that focuses on preventing the sexual exploitation of transitional-age youth and addresses the needs of LGTBQ youth who are homeless or have “aged out” of institutional care.

For our conference, Michael Sheline will be doing a presentation called “The Vulnerability of LGBTQ Youth and Males”. In this presentation, Mr. Sheline will address experiences this populations faces in their families, communities, schools, and faith based organizations which often leads to low self-esteem and self-worth which makes them prime targets for “grooming” or other unhealthy and unsafe relationships. Mr. Sheline will also touch on the subject of male exploitation and explain why it is under reported and give suggestions on serving this population.

I had to opportunity to ask Mr. Sheline a few questions related to his work and his interest in the issue of human trafficking, and here are his responses.

Q: Can you give us a brief overview of the work you do for the Ohio Attorney General’s Office?

A: I am the Assistant Chief of the Crime Victims Services Section which works to help victims of crime become survivors. I administer the federal Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) and State Victims Assistance Act (SVAA) funding programs in Ohio, which provide grants to organizations that provide direct services to help victims of violent crime. I also work on policy related to expanding sexual assault services, and providing services to transitional aged youth who have been sexually exploited or commercialized.

Q: When and how did human trafficking become an important issue for you?

A: Human trafficking became an important issue to me a couple of years ago when I began working with homeless youth shelters throughout the state. We noticed a large part of the population they were serving had not only been sexually victimized on the streets but also prior to being homeless or unattended. I feel we have a big opportunity to stop a cycle of violence with this population especially among transitional aged youth.

Q: What is one thing you wish everyone knew about human trafficking?

A: It does not only affect girls, we have a large number of transitional aged males who are sexually exploited. The cases are often overlooked and under reported. Very few studies have been done in the U.S. highlighting this issue.

Q: How can an average person, a community member or student, engage in this issue?

A: Education, awareness, and understanding the impact of stigma. Do not promote or participate in the stereotypes of the sexual exploitation of humans.

We’re looking forward to hearing more about his work and about these vulnerable populations at the conference and we hope to see you all there!

Author: Bhumika Patel
January 30, 2015


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