Wynona’s House is the First to Stream Newly Released Documentary in the Tri-State Area at 2022 Training & Workshops on Child Maltreatment Series

Wynona’s House, Essex County’s Child Advocacy Center, Holds Second Free Training Event in its 2022 Training and Workshops on Child Maltreatment Series: A Free Multidisciplinary Team Response Training Event. Wynona’s House Was the First to Stream a Newly Released, Award-Winning Documentary in the Tri-State Area Which Focuses on Online Grooming and Exploitation.

Newark, NJ, November 21, 2022 --(PR.com)-- The Wynona's House Child Advocacy Center proudly presented its second event in its 2022 Training and Workshops on Child Maltreatment series, titled “Child Safety in the Dawn of the Metaverse – Are We Ready for This New Frontier?” On November 14, 2022, at Montclair State University, Wynona’s House was the first to stream a newly released, award-winning documentary in the tri-state area. The film is an investigation into the world of online grooming and exploitation, a present-day reality for one in seven children online. Director, editor, and producer Maria Peek and producer and cinematographer Stephen Peek were present to answer attendees’ questions after the screening. View the trailer at www.vimeo.com/673752770.

Honored speakers included:

- 2022 Santa Barbara International Film Festival Social Justice Feature Documentaries Producers Maria and Stephen Peek
- Sought-After Leader, Speaker, & Mentor in the Anti-Human Trafficking Movement and a Passionate Advocate for Victims of Human Trafficking Gina Cavallo

“The extremely disturbing yet timely subject matter, combined with the challenges of filming during the pandemic made making this film almost an impossible task. We had to adjust, improvise, and rely on court drawings and animation when filming just was not possible,” said Maria Peek. “The written stories of survivors, obtained in person and from the court documents, have opened my eyes to the severity and cruelty of this crime, especially the psychological long-term effects on the children and their futures. It is my hope that in the same way, the eyes of the viewers will be opened – and awareness, education and civil action will become the result of this film. We simply cannot allow this to go on.”

“This award-winning documentary is an eye-opening resource for the community at large. In the dawn of the metaverse, we need to stay alert and help others understand the negative effects this new platform has on children,” stated Dominic Prophete, CEO, Wynona’s House, Essex County’s Child Advocacy Center. “We’re honored to be the first to screen this documentary and be joined by Maria and Stephen Peek to educate child welfare professionals here in New Jersey.”

Survivor Gina Cavallo shared her life experiences as a survivor of childhood abuse and trafficking to help people understand the actual reality of human trafficking and create hope for triumphing over horrific crimes against the mind, body, and spirit. She educated others about the part they can play in survivors’ freedom, healing, and restoration from shame in order to help prevent the victimization of others. Recently, Gina was appointed as a commissioner to the New Jersey Commission on Human Trafficking, and she is also a state-certified advocate for victims of domestic violence and assault. On the national level, she was recognized as the recipient of the 2020 National Liberators Awards for Survivor Leader. At the conclusion of the event, Maria and Stephen Peek, representatives from the local Internet Crimes Against Children unit, and mental health professionals discussed and helped educate the community on how to keep children safe on the Internet. Details about the event are available at www.wynonashouse.org/events/november-14-2022-trainings-and-workshops-on-child-maltreatment/.

The first event in Wynona’s House’s training series was held at Montclair State University on October 11, 2022, and was aimed at improving collaborative responses to the emerging threat of victimization for children in virtual environments, such as metaverses. Even though metaverses may be virtual, the impact is real. The workshops focused on enhancing Children Advocacy Center (CAC) and multidisciplinary team (MDT) competencies to improve collaborative response and provision of an array of services, including medical and mental health, to children victimized in virtual environments as well as current and evolving laws, strategies, and practices to help protect children online and keep them safe. This year, the Wynona's House Child Advocacy Center 2022 Training and Workshops on Child Maltreatment consist of two training events. Details about the event are available at www.wynonashouse.org/events/2022-trainings-and-workshops-on-child-maltreatment.

While many federal and state laws protect children from explicit content and labor exploitation online, the specific features of these user-generated virtual worlds allow for violations of these protections as safety features are left to users to police themselves. This leaves users, particularly children, vulnerable in "real life" and in virtual reality. This offers predators an opportunity to exploit this not sufficiently regulated world.

For questions regarding this event, please contact Wynona’s House Development and Communication Associate Minela Kajmak at mkajmak@wynonashouse.org or 973-735-2237.
Wynona's House Child Advocacy Center
LisaMarie Gaeta