Atlanta is wet and windy today, teens are huddled in abandoned buildings, cruising food courts for free samples, taking naps at the library. It’s Valentine’s Day, I’m sure they are painfully aware of this… not as young single teens but as discarded, forsaken children outcast from their homes and most of society…they blend in and lay low. Their desire to not be seen or heard suffocates their cries for help. That is why we are here. At urban grind in downtown atlanta, trying like hell to get others to care. Few come in, but those who listen walk away with something to consider for the rest of the day, hopefully for the rest of their lives: We are the youth sex trafficking capital of the United States. The majority of these kids are homeless, many unwillingly forced in from another continent, many are from the United States. All are desperate, vulnerable and scared. None of them chose this, but the street is often more appealing than a drug infested or violent, abusive home. Sometimes the choice has been made for them, often kicked out by the people who raised them. What to do?
It’s the small things. We just received three donated warm winter jackets. It can be the big things, GlaxoSmithKline recently gave StandUp For Kids a $75,000 check to fund a new youth center. Now homeless kids in Atlanta will have more hot showers, hot meals, access to a nurse, laundry, computers, job counseling, clothing, blankets, shoes, hygiene kits, friendship and a place to relax…things we all need to lead our lives, realize our goals, feel confident and able…
so if you can do 1 thing do this:
Your research: Between 1.6 and 2.8 million kids runaway each year. Studies suggest 90 percent of these kids leave because they’ve been physically, sexually or emotionally abused. 34,000 to 60,000 kids in Atlanta run away every year. Runaway kids turn to prostitution and other illegal acts for survival within 48 hours. Youth 15 to 17 make up two-thirds of this group. Misconceptions and myths distort the reality of this issue.
Give what you can: from bags of clothes to shoes and food, hygiene products and money, there are organizations helping, but it is impossible to sustain this effort without continual help. There are too many kids and too little hands offering support. StandUp For Kids is an all volunteer army committed to making sure these kids are not forgotten. We need your help to help more kids.
Be there: homeless youth need mentors, friends, parents, guidance. They need someone to hold them accountable and someone to be there day after day. You have skills and expertise, compassion and patience…share it!
Solving the problem takes lots of people doing one thing. It matters.