Atlanta Nonprofit Teaches Kids Self-Defense And How To Recognize Predators

Revved Up Kids teaches self-defense classes.

Courtesy of Revved Up Kids

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.

“Morning Edition” host Lisa Rayam sat down with Alli Neal, who runs the Atlanta-based nonprofit, Revved Up Kids. It’s an organization that teaches kids and young adults self-defense and how to recognize predators and get out of dangerous situations.

Alli Neal is executive director of Revved Up Kids. (Courtesy of Revved Up Kids)

“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.

Another study by the anti-trafficking nonprofit Georgia Cares found that typically more than 90% of child sex trafficking victims in the state were enrolled in school at the time of their exploitation. 

According to the Urban Insititute, trafficking in Atlanta offers predators a weekly salary of about $33,000, and 65% of men who purchased sex with female children in Atlanta live in suburban areas outside the I-285 perimeter.  

For more information on child self-defense classes, visit