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Gone are the days when the majority of trafficking was done with victims being sold on the street corner, in brothels, and in massage parlors.  We now see the covert effects of a time in society when everything is done online with the goal of anonymity and secrecy.  Each month, thousands of ads are placed on internet posting boards and chat rooms offering individuals the opportunity to buy sex.  Due to the nature of these postings, there is no checking of ages or identities of the girls being sold and bought. Unfortunately, this has only perpetuated the use of minors to achieve the demand. Girls are recruited and trafficked at younger ages  and, due to the nature of the problem, when a child is brought into a hospital or being evaluated they are brought in due to levels of aggression, stealing, or running away.  Lack of attachment and other inaccurate labels occur. 

In cases such as these, the true underlying causes of these symptoms are missed; as a result, a large proportion of the individuals affected are placed in juvenile detention and are missing out on the type of help they truly need.  At KidsPeace, we are changing that, by working to address the significant crisis of a lack of mental health services for victims of the commercial sexual exploration of children (CSEC). 

The KidsPeace Trauma Program provides comprehensive treatment and educational services to females (ages 10-17.5) with a DSM 5 diagnosis, based around the principles of Trauma Informed Care and Life Skill Acquisition.  KidsPeace provides highly innovative, evidence-based treatment on a scenic and peaceful campus.  Our staff have enhanced specialized training in evidence-based trauma informed interventions, for individual, family and group therapy. 

We are especially proud of our clinicians’ training in Trauma-Informed Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – an evidence-based practice for use with victims of CSEC and other forms of trauma. We use a holistic approach that looks to meld the principles of community interaction, evidence based interventions, and life skills development. Additionally, our Trauma Program implements ongoing outcomes measurement initiatives to track the attainment of treatment goals for both individual clients and the overall program.  Data from these validated measures are used to drive decisions in treatment planning and programming.

The ultimate goal is to recognize situational, emotional, and cognitive factors that might contribute to a reemergence of baseline behaviors, as well as defined methods to avoid high-risk situations.  We look to teach these survivors to learn and implement “Life Goals,” including encouraging them to think of positive future goals (i.e.: school, job, step-down placement, etc.). We also integrate life skills, job training, career development, and employment services into treatment.  Finally, our program aims to utilize an independent-living curriculum, online programs and local agencies to help foster self reliance and independence – so that they are prepared to succeed when returning to the community they came from.

Dominick DiSalvo

Dominick DiSalvo

Dominick DiSalvo, M.A., LPC is Senior Director of Clinical Services for KidsPeace’s Pennsylvania residential program, overseeing all aspects of clinical treatment in the program to ensure quality, integrity and coordination in the residential program. DiSalvo holds a master’s degree in clinical counseling from LaSalle University and is a Licensed Professional Counselor. He has worked in a variety of clinical and supervisory roles since joining KidsPeace in 2012.