I believe that one of the greatest evils on the face of God’s green earth is the exploitation and trafficking of children for sex. When I hear about the horrors that young girls (and some boys, too, by the way) go through in countries like Cambodia, Greece, India, etc., it makes me sick. Disgusted. It could give one a false sense of security to think, “Wow. I’m so glad I live in such a great country like the U.S. where such evils don’t exist.”
This country is great. And I’m proud to be an American. But, before we get too high and mighty, it might interest you to know that some of the most horrific statistics of Commercial Sex Exploitation of Children (aka CSEC) occur right here in the U.S! And I was further surprised (and horrified) to learn that one of the top cities in the U.S. for CSEC is my very own Atlanta, GA.
When you hear the numbers, they boggle the mind. You think to yourself, “How can that be? That can’t be right. They must have added an extra zero.” But, make no mistake. They are real. (e.g. 7,200 men are serviced by under-aged girls every MONTH in Georgia). These numbers are so real in fact that a group of non-denominational churches here in the Atlanta metro decided to band together and do something about.
Street GRACE (Galvanizing Resources Against Child Exploitation) started little over a year ago and has already grown by leaps and bounds. Over 30 churches have banned together and are partnering with other organizations to attack the problem in five key areas: awareness, prayer, mobilization, support, and restoration.
A Special Evening of Awareness, Prayer, and Engagement
On Friday, June 4, at 12 Stone Church (1322 Buford Drive, Lawrenceville, GA), there will be a special evening to raise community awareness, pray, and provide opportunities to engage. Tasra and I have volunteered our creative services to contribute to this event. Working with our Teen Identity team of girls, Tasra did a 20-image photo series of the girls holding up signs that represent the “Voices of the Victims.” (The rest of the photos will go online over the next few days). All the photos will be displayed in one of the rooms of the event.
I worked with the girls to create a public service announcement video that will be played at the end of the worship part of the event. It is our hope that these can be used beyond the event to help continue the spread of awareness and action.
If you’re in the Atlanta metro area, I encourage you to come by. It is an “experiential” event that you walk through. There will be music, photography, singing, and opportunities to learn more about this issue. It shouldn’t take you more than a half hour or so to walk through. The event will be open from 5 pm to 9 pm. Get more info here.
“Numbers” – Sex Trafficking PSA
Here’s the PSA I made. It was such a fulfilling project. Special thanks to Liana Lehman-Hall for loaning me her equipment. And special thanks to the Teen Identity girls who braved the pouring rain to shoot the video and photos on our limited schedule.
Join the Teen Identity Revolution
If you’re a photographer, videographer, or filmmaker interested in helping us address more issues like this (ones that specifically affect teen girls), and if you want to help make a difference in the life of teen girls, join our Teen Identity Photographers Network. We’ll soon be sharing specific plans how you can get involved.