Here is the ugly truth about my beautiful city: Atlanta is one of the largest hubs for human trafficking in the country.
There are plenty of things I’d rather talk about in regards to my booming metropolis: like how Atlanta is known for our southern hospitality; or how we were the birthplace of civil rights; or how our city’s chefs prepare some sinfully delicious food. Heck, I’d rather write an article lamenting our horribly congested interstates rather than address this painful fact: on average 200-300 of my city’s twelve year old children are being exploited by the commercial sex trade in any given month.
My heart overflows with righteous indignation at this painful truth. And yet, until the Passion City End It initiative in December of 2012, I had no idea that this was happening in my city.
The older I get, the more I realize that ignorance is the enemy of live-giving change. After all, it is much, much easier to keep my head down and hope that this terrible tragedy doesn’t happen to anyone in my family or group of friends. And yet, I cannot ignore the fact that right down the street from me, little girls are losing the opportunity to be little girls. Each of these precious lives are inhumanely marketed on the street; as pimps use these little bodies as their capital. This isn’t easy to ignore.
Especially when, according to Mary Frances Bowley of Wellspring Living, these girls generally come from underprivileged or unhealthy home environments. This painful reality tugs at my heartstrings more than anything, because I’ve taught plenty of underprivileged girls, with generally unhealthy home environments. Without giving too much of their personal stories away (as some of my students actually read my blog), suffice it to say that I have genuinely love and cared for all of my students. But there is just something special about girls who are unabashedly broken. Let me explain.
I’ve taught little girls who became mothers at the age of 14 or 15. Some willingly engaged with their partner; while others were forced into a sexual relationship. I’ve been privileged to teach students who were in the grips of crippling addiction: whether it was an addiction of their own or that of their parents. I’ve taught girls who just wanted to be loved and didn’t understand that they were already worthy without trading their bodies for it.
There are few moments as a teacher when you realize that you are truly making a difference in the lives of high school students. And yet, when those moments happen, you know it. Your vision becomes singular; your hearing gets a little fuzzy; you’re saturated in gratitude; and you identify that you will remember those few minutes for the rest of your life. I’ve had the privilege to pull a girl aside and tell her how truly beautiful she was; how she was worth so much more than she was giving herself credit for, when whispers of her being a “slut” circulated through the hallways. I’ve been speechless; with only a double armed embrace to assure this young woman that there was someone that loved her unconditionally, even when her parents just couldn’t afford to support her financially anymore. I’ve been given the opportunity to encourage young women to continue to stay focused on life after high school, rather than just look a few weeks ahead. These are the moments that I will treasure.
These are the students I will never forget. And yet, I realize that because of their underprivileged backgrounds, they are at risk for being traded into this horrendous and deceptively “stable” human trafficking trade.
Why should we fight to end human trafficking? Because every life is valuable. Because my students are deserving of a life that doesn’t value them simply by their bodies. By ending this particular trade, I can confidently say that these wonderful young women that I have been given the gift to teach can and will change the world around them.
Please, please consider shopping with Family Christian this week for the #FCChallenge. There are plenty of ways to help, one of which is simply shopping Family Christian this week, where earnings will go toward their partnership with Destiny Rescue. You can also consider donating to help get these children off the streets and into a classroom.
To learn more, please click the hyperlinks above.
Also, please see The Tacky Truth about Jeremiah 29:11 for more information about how other big companies are making a huge difference in the city of Atlanta.