What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like.”
Since attending the 2015 Atlanta Justice Conference this past Saturday at Perimeter Church, in Johns Creek, with my friend, Debby, I feel compelled to write a follow-up post about this horrific subject. Let me start out by saying there is hope in ending this violent crime towards minor women and men because I believe that awareness is a great first step to solving the problems in our world. Awareness and then asking ourselves: “What can I do?” As you become more aware of this issue, I trust you and I will take a step of action towards changing this.
Mr. Vernon Keenan, Director of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation shared a few facts with us :
- In the past year, 200 officers were added and trained to make up a Task Force that deals specifically with this issue in Georgia.
- In 2013, human sex trafficking was found to profit more than $290 million, 3 times more than the 2013 Atlanta Falcons budget.
- The GBI’s experience is that these cases involve GA kids, not out-of-state kids, and not international kids.
- 1/3 of those involved were first homeless because of abuse in the home, and within 2-3 days of being homeless, the child was approached by someone who would then pull them into human sex trafficking.
- The average age for children who are led into this is 11-14, middle school age.
- 70-90% of domestic minor sex trafficking (DMST) victims report theywere abused at home (or near their home) where they should feel safe and protected.
In a recent study specifically in Atlanta, Georgia, 42% of the cases were found in North Atlanta, north of The Perimeter, and a high correlation was found between young girls being sexually exploited by those with a disposable income.
What can one do?
First and foremost, we can pray for the victims of human sex trafficking and learn more about this issue. This costs us nothing and can have an enormous impact on the despair in the hearts of these young women. Second, get involved either financially, by volunteering, or simply sharing what you learn and starting a dialogue in our communities. There are many organizations we can connect with that are standing firm against this crime, such as Wellspring Living, Operation Liberate, End It Now, Street Grace, City of Refuge, Out of Darkness, and Haven ATL. Third, you can go to the Georgia State Capitol on Thursday, February 12, 2015 and stand shoulder-to-shoulder with others who want to take a positive stand against this crime. For more information about the DMST Lobby Day 2015, go to Street Grace.
Many of you, like me, may be wondering how we can protect our future generations, our children, our grandchildren? Sadly, we know that along with many positive benefits, the cyber world has also brought some hazards into our homes. For example, if someone in a home has been looking at something pornographic privately in their own homes, and then a child in that same home goes to the p.c. to work on homework, that child is one click away from being exposed to graphic porn at a young age.
The answer is to “immunize” our kids about sex through teaching and conversation BEFORE they ever have the chance to see it or be exposed to it on the web.
I will close with something for the precious men in our lives. I am learning that the availability of internet pornography is the starting point for many men who then find their way into the evils of human sex trafficking. We cannot stop that availability of internet porn, but men can make the choice to stop looking at it and participating in it. This is a supply and demand issue. Street Grace has begun a digital campaign to aid men in making this intentional choice. It is called F.A.C.E. and stands for Fathers Against Child Exploitation. By simply going to Street Grace men are asked to consider coming on board and making a difference in their sphere of influence by agreeing to 3 statements in a pledge:
- WALK IN INTEGRITY by not purchasing sex.
- EXHIBIT COURAGE by raising awareness, speaking out against DMST and reversing today’s distorted perception of sex.
- LEAVE A LEGACY by mentoring the next generation to walk in integrity and exhibit the courage to eradicate DMST entirely.