I had a wonderful meeting today with the program coordinator of an organization called YouthSpark. They are Atlanta-specific, but they are about to launch something called Voices Online, which reaches out to anyone, so that is why I am writing about them today.
YouthSpark was founded by a group of juvenile court judges who noticed that young girls (10, 11, 12) were falling through the cracks of the justice system because they were being brought in on charges of prostitution, and the judges had no choice but to either send them to the detention center or send them back to the situations in which they were trafficked. So, they opened Angela’s House- the first ever safe house for girls in the Southeast.
However, they began to realize that if they were only helping victims, there was always going to be more victims. Therefore, they began addressing the demand side of the sex trafficking industry. As more safe houses and aftercare programs were created, YouthSpark shut down Angela’s House and began working with young women that were at a very high risk for trafficking (referred to them primarily by the probation office in Atlanta), with men to educate them about sex trafficking so they do not perpetuate it by buying sex, and with student groups to help raise awareness about the issue. All that to say, they do some pretty awesome stuff. Until now, unless you’re lucky like me to live in Atlanta, there was not much you could do to get involved with YouthSpark. However, now you can.
With their Voices Online program and an app that is launching soon, they will make their prevention curriculum available and easily accessible to everyone. This means that if you see or know a girl or woman that is demonstrating some risk factors for trafficking, there is a web resource that you can use to educate yourself, and a resource she can use to hopefully not become a victim.
I will post the link to the program as soon as it officially launches, but I wanted to give you guys a heads up about an awesome resource that is about to come out! That is today’s suggestion of how to change the world: know about this resource and USE IT should the need arise.
In the meantime, if you see something that looks like trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1-888-373-7888