Advocate Spotlight Award

Patrick Erlandson

Founder & Creative Director

"See It End It" Film and Arts Festival

Cancer InCytes Magazine

Volume 7, Issue 1, Summer 2020

June 7, 2020

 

Managing Editor: Barbara Recine, MA

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Patrick Erlandson is the Founder and Creative Director of See it End it Film and Arts Festival, which raises awareness of human trafficking through film and the arts. The second See it End it Film and Arts Festival was slated for April, 2020 but has been postponed to the end of July. He is also the Founder and Director of Father-con, an educational-awareness conference for fathers to prevent human trafficking. Recognizing that fathers are critical to ending human exploitation, the conference provides training for foster fathers, encourages mentorship, and inspires fathers to embrace their character-shaping role in the lives of their children and communities. The second Father-con occurred in November of 2019.

After directing the Horizon Art Gallery in Houston, Texas, and teaching English as a Second Language in Fukuoka, Japan, Mr. Erlandson owned and operated Changing Hands Thrift Store in Lomita, California, from 2002 to 2005. Proceeds supported several projects working with children in Zambia, Africa, as well as medical assistance to Niger. (His wife, Machiko, had led medical teams there as a volunteer coordinator with Women’s Federation for World Peace, Japan.) In 2004, Mr. Erlandson led a group of students to Zambia to work with CINDI (Children in Distress) with the aim of encouraging American youth who have access to education and opportunity to appreciate their ability to use their blessings to serve others in the world.

During the two years he worked with USA for UNHCR, the United Nations Refugee Agency, learning about organ trafficking led him to extensive research into human trafficking both internationally and domestically. In 2011, he took over as head of the prevention subcommittee of the Long Beach Human Trafficking Task Force. He co-founded the Youth Exploitation Safety Symposium in Long Beach as a community awareness and educational event which continues today as the Youth Empowerment Safety Symposium as an annual activity of the Long Beach Human Trafficking Task Force. Around this time, Mr. Erlandson also became a member of the advisory board on the issue of human trafficking for the Los Angeles Chapter of the United Nations Women’s Association.

In 2011, he launched socalhumantraffickingevents.info as a hub for events occurring around Southern California in fighting human trafficking. To promote men’s engagement in the fight against human trafficking, in 2015 he helped initiate Care 18’s Men Standing Against Trafficking (MSAT), which holds demonstrations in support of the victims and messages to the customers of prostituted children and to the vulnerable on the streets where trafficking is occurring. He has led these demonstrations once a month at an intersection known for trafficking activities. He partners with many organizations around Southern California, such as Saving Innocence, the YWCA, Gems Uncovered, Journey Out, the US Catholic Sisters against Human Trafficking and many more.

In 2016, Mr. Erlandson went to Cambodia and Thailand to visit organizations such as Destiny Rescue, Million Kids, Chab Dai, and Agape International Missions and see first-hand the work being done to disrupt and prevent human trafficking in Southeast Asia.

Mr. Erlandson has spoken and been moderator on many panels, given presentations on child sex trafficking, and conducted workshops on the links between human trafficking and pornography at schools, institutions of faith and secular organizations. His focus in all of his efforts and organizations is the prevention of human trafficking and changing the narrative of male entitlement that drives much of the demand for exploited children and the most vulnerable of our population.

His and his wife, who is Japanese, live with and care for his 95-year-old mother who suffers from Alzheimer’s and have two grown daughters.

What has been the most rewarding aspect of your work?

 

The most rewarding aspect of my work is seeing more men take human trafficking and the blessing of being a father more seriously. The focus of my work is on the prevention of human trafficking and that means engaging men who are the primary demand drivers of this horror. Sadly, for too long, human trafficking was seen as mostly an issue for girls and women, and as a result dismissed as a "women's issue". I have long considered this a crime against humanity because it removes human beings, who have hopes and dreams that can benefit us all, and turns them into product.

 

What has been the greatest challenge in your fight against human trafficking?

 

The greatest challenge in this work is the flip side: making more men take this seriously and making them see fatherhood as critical to ending human exploitation since the healthy love of a father or father-figure can prevent so many of the social problems we now face. We need stronger mentoring of young dads who have not known a father in their own lives. We need daughters who feel the security that they are worthy of love; this comes predominantly from the love of a father. We need to remove the acceptance by men of "boys will be boys" when it comes to abuse of women and children, but also recognize the damaging impact of sexual abuse of boys as well. So the greatest challenge for me is being able to reach men and keep them engaged in seeing their influence as essential in the home and out in the community.

 

What message would you like to give your readers?

 

My message would be that we take more seriously the problems of the culture we are allowing ourselves to stew in: a materialistic culture that encourages entitlement even to what we have not been given or earned – entitlement to others’ bodies and lives. This is being encouraged by film, music and video games and needs to be addressed within the home and in the community at large. On the flip side, our culture is also putting children at risk of becoming victims. As one pimp put it, "We don't even have to groom children these days. They are coming out of their families ready to be exploited." I want to see human trafficking ended as much as I want to see children – without predators stalking them through video games and social media or by recruiters on school campuses – growing up safely, able to follow their dreams.

Cancer research human trafficking

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