Every month, 400 adolescent girls are sold on Internet sites, on street corners, and in the backroom deals of sex traffickers. An estimated 300 such transactions occur every day. The girls come from every socioeconomic background: Many are runaways or abused children; some are kidnapped. The average age of entry into the local sex market is between 12 and 14 years old.
This heartbreaking reality is not a story from a red-light district in a third world country. Shockingly, these statistics describe the daily plight of hundreds of children right here in America in the state of Georgia.
Recognizing the unique needs of sexual abuse victims, one organization in the state is helping girls and young women rescued from the sex trade begin healing. Wellspring Living focuses on restoring women’s dignity and purpose by providing intensive therapy to promote emotional and relational recovery. The organization offers a residential treatment center for adult women escaping violence and abuse, providing a safe environment where victims can become survivors through counseling and education. Wellspring also offers practical life skills training and family reunification programs. Wellspring for Girls has partnered with a licensed children’s home and school to meet the housing and educational needs of underage sex trafficking victims—with noteworthy results.
The organization has served over 150 women and 25 minors, with an 84 percent success rate. Understanding the need for community awareness and vigilance against sex trafficking, Wellspring also invests time and resources in educating local churches and communities on the reality of the sexual exploitation in Georgia.
The success of programs like Wellspring would be nearly impossible without the work of local police and government officials dedicated to enforcing anti-exploitation laws and rescuing women from sex trafficking. This is one example of government upholding justice and protecting the most vulnerable members of the community. Where public institutions’ role ends and private organizations’ begin is in helping restore victims to wholeness through relationships and individual attention.
As Heritage Fellow Ryan Messmore points on in a new paper, “As it articulates and upholds the rule of law on behalf of an entire society, government benefits all citizens, especially the weakest and most vulnerable. By maintaining public safety, law, and justice, government ensures that healthy relationships can grow and thrive in the context of family, church, and community.”
Government has a responsibility to maintain the rule of law so that safety, freedom, and social peace can allow civil society institutions like Wellspring Living to provide the resources to restore human dignity and help individuals thrive.
Shyima is a young woman who experienced such restoration through a similar effort in Orange County, California. Watch Shyima’s story to see how private organizations and public law enforcement can partner to stop human trafficking and restore victims’ dignity. Learn more about government’s proper role in helping civil society institutions address community needs at SeekSocialJustice.com.