Child sex trafficking and abuse is a difficult but necessary conversation for parents to have – especially in the metro Atlanta area, where more than half of homeless youth have been forced into some form of human trafficking.
According to a 2018 study by Georgia State University sociology professor Eric Wright, that could mean sex or labor trafficking. And while one out of four homeless youth were involved in sex work, the majority of trafficking experiences involved a wide range of labor trafficking.
“The vast majority of sex trafficking that’s actually happening is occurring in a couple of different ways,” Neal said. “Kids who are runaways are definitely being approached. But it is also starting on social media.”
Besides teaching self-defense classes in partnership with local law enforcement, Neal talks to kids about setting personal boundaries. That can be tough even for adults, but she says, especially young children are conditioned to respect and obey adults.
“We’re trying to reverse that conversation and say, I decide who touches me,” she said.