Help Georgia Children by Voting Yes
You’re at home one day and your doorbell rings. You open the door to see a child looking hurt and unsafe. Then this child summons the courage to ask you for help.
You can answer, “yes, I will help,” or “no, I won’t help.”
This, in essence, is the question you face at the end of the ballot on November 8th, when Amendment 2 proposes creating the “Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited Children Fund.”
My perspective on this issue comes from two angles. I have researched both the victims and perpetrators of child sex trafficking in Georgia for years as a quantitative sociologist. And, I have seen firsthand how these young victims are identified and treated in my role as Executive Director of youthSpark, an Atlanta-based nonprofit that provides services to youth who have been sexually exploited or who are at high risk.
For most of you, the question of whether or not you will say “yes” to help that child at your doorstep is purely academic. But as service providers this question is real and all too familiar. Few situations are as heartbreaking as denying services to a sexually trafficked child because the funding just isn’t there. Our youth deserve better.
And when I say “our youth,” I mean it. Many people assume that victims of child sex trafficking have been smuggled in from other countries. That does indeed happen, and there is much we can do to improve our humanitarian response to these victims. But when the victimized child was born here in the U.S., as in the vast majority of identified cases, we simply lack the dedicated funding necessary to address the child’s recovery.
Data from a variety of sources on the size and scope of the illegal sex trade in Georgia suggest there are approximately 300 juvenile victims of sex trafficking per month, 250 of whom are girls and 50 are boys. That’s a significant number of victims, but it’s also a solvable problem.
We partner with a variety of organizations to meet the urgent needs of victimized youth, but also to solve the underlying problem of sex trafficking through policy changes and accountability strategies. Voting “yes” on Amendment 2 not only helps us meet the urgent needs of our youth, but it also sends a message to policymakers across the state that Georgians intend to solve the problem of child sex trafficking together.
Now is your chance. You’re in the voting booth on November 8th, and you reach Amendment 2 at the end of the ballot. To the child who summoned the courage to ask you for help, I hope you answer, “yes, I will help.”
Find out more about youthSpark here: http://youth-spark.org