According to Unbound Fort Worth Director of Youth Prevention Sonya Brooks,
Children like Maddie** are the reason we fight human trafficking and ignite hope. Your support is the reason we can. In the last year since North Texas Giving Day 2019, I have trained over 7,000 students relative to how they can protect against and prevent future exploitation for themselves and their friends.
During one presentation, I looked around the room and noticed a few girls biting their nails and looking extremely uncomfortable. The teens were learning about risk factors that might make youth more vulnerable to being trafficked. One of them was Maddie.
The teens viewed a video of how easily one can be manipulated and tricked into an unhealthy relationship, thinking this will be their “happily ever after.” The reality is that these relationships can become filled with fear, rape, abuse, degradation, and pain.
After seeing the video, the room was silent.
The message hit home. When I opened discussion about the video, Maddie sat forward in her chair and asked, “How do you know if your relationship is real?”
I responded, “People who really love you will never ask you to do anything that makes you uncomfortable. They will always respect your boundaries and not try to set them for you.”
Maddie sat back in her chair, looking as if the wind had been knocked out of her.
After the bell rang, I spoke to the teacher regarding the interaction with Maddie. The teacher committed to share the information with the counselor.
At the end of the school day, the counselor approached me and shared that two young ladies came to her office and made suicide outcries. The counselor of course couldn’t reveal private details, but shared that she believed those teens felt comfortable opening up as a result of the Human Trafficking Youth Prevention training.
Our training helps teens realize they are not alone! The training creates a safe place for teens to make outcries, not just related to human trafficking, but other areas of pain. We have served nearly 250 survivors over the last two years – given what we see every day and knowing how long and hard the road to recovery is – we are motivated to keep this from happening to any more kids.
Many of our children are enduring these times at home – alone. And for those who are at risk, they might feel even more isolated. Let’s pay special attention to what is going on with our kids. Look, talk, listen, and love. Our youth deserve it!
You’re invited to give as much as you’re comfortable giving this North Texas Giving Day 2020. Kids like Maddie are counting on us to continue showing up, especially when times are hard. For more information about Unbound Fort Worth and how you can join the fight against human trafficking, visit www.unboundfortworth.org or follow us on Instagram (@unboundfortworth).
* Photo credit: Larinda Smith ** Name changed to protect identity of student *** Photo credit: Style DFW Pictures **** Graphic provided by Unbound Fort Worth
In 11 years, Communities Foundation of Texas’ North Texas Giving Day has pumped more than $290 million into the North Texas community. In 2019, more than $50 million was raised through more than 169,000 gifts benefiting over 2,988 area nonprofits.