Every woman who comes through the doors at Magdalene has a story about how she got to the street. Listening to hundreds of stories has taught us that human sex trafficking and prostitution are rooted in childhood trauma. While each woman's story is unique, their collective journey begins in a childhood marked by sexual abuse and neglect at the hands of parents, family members or trusted caregivers. Current statistics indicate that 1 in 10 children in the US are sexually abused by the time they are 18. Research suggests that 90% of these children don’t tell anyone about the abuse. Both the short and long term impact of sexual abuse makes it likely the most serious health problem children face. Children who have endured sexual abuse and neglect at the hands of family members are those most vulnerable to being trafficked.
Credit: Andrew C.
At Magdalene and Thistle Farms we believe the best way to prevent human sex trafficking and prostitution is to prevent child sexual abuse. To that end, we’ve joined the Sexual Assault Center, Tennessee’s Child Advocacy Centers, Our Kids, Family and Children’s Services, Nashville Children’s Alliance and Prevent Child Abuse Tennessee to create the Nashville Child Protection Coalition. On April 15th, with support from The HCA Foundation and The Children’s Hospital at TriStar Centennial, the Child Protection Coalition is launching a regional initiative to provide adults across work, faith, school, recreational and neighborhood settings with education and practical tools to prevent, recognize and respond to child sexual abuse in our community.
Stewards of Children is an evidence informed, two hour training that empowers adults to protect children from sexual abuse. The training can be facilitated anywhere there are adults who love a child or care about their welfare. It specifically equips adults to create safer environments for children and to respond protectively should they suspect abuse or encounter a child who has or is being abused. With initial support from HCA and TriStar, Nashville’s Child Protection Coalition aims to provide the training to 5% of the adult population in Middle Tennessee—considered a ‘tipping’ point in terms of creating new cultural norms and changing behavior across a community.
Like other successful campaigns that address public health issues across ethnic and socio-economic boundaries—wearing a seatbelt, vaccinating against disease, eating a healthy diet to prevent heart disease-- the Stewards of Children curriculum is based on the idea that once adults can sit with their discomfort about the topic long enough to acquire new information, they are empowered to change their own behavior and in turn, protect the children in their lives from harm. Lauren Looser at Tennessee’s Children’s Advocacy Centers will work with you to schedule a training for your co-workers, your faith community or your child’s school or sports league. I’m a trained Stewards of Children facilitator and will be delighted and honored to present the curriculum in your community.