Educating at-risk girls about trafficking and how to protect themselves from exploitation.
For our team, it all started a few years ago after a conversation with a young woman
who had been stuck in a life of addiction and prostitution from a very young age.
Although Barbara had been arrested more than 120 times, she never really received the care she needed to change her life. No one tried to help her understand how her destructive behavior was being fueled by her own traumatic experiences, inevitably putting her at risk for serious exploitation.
“I’ve been arrested so many times, and every time I was brought in, I never once met someone who met me where I was at.”
Her statement shook our team, and opened our eyes to the reality gripping thousands of young girls “picked up” for all kinds of offenses in juvenile detention. Often without stable families or support systems, many of these young girls don’t have an understanding about the dangers lurking out there, waiting for a chance to exploit them.
In 2015, Hope for Justice launched a pilot program in Nashville, Tennessee in collaboration with the juvenile court system and other local agencies serving at-risk youth. The program’s aim is to educate high-risk girls about the dangers of trafficking and ways they can protect themselves against it. Most of the girls who are part of the program have been in and out of the system for years and have had multiple status offenses — missing school, running away, curfew violation, and unruly behavior. In many ways, these girls mirror what Barbara was like at that age.
Girls Advocacy Program
GAP (Girls Advocacy Program) is very much in its infancy, but has already been able to work with 53 minors who are highly vulnerable to exploitation.
The secondary goal with GAP is to help with identification of trafficked minors and those at high risk, which will enable us to better understand what services are needed in the community. We want to keep the young ‘Barbaras’ from becoming another heartbreaking statistic by empowering them to choose a different path for their lives. A path that can shift a generation and help bring an end to exploitation, one girl at a time.
Help us expand GAP and the work of Hope for Justice, help reach the most at-risk.