The truth about Jerry Sandusky and the Penn State football program has finally come out. In June, the former coach was convicted of sexually abusing boys over a 15-year period. More disturbing, however, was the 267-page internal review released July 12th which revealed the Penn State football program and upper-level administration going out of their way to cover up these awful crimes.
The modus operandi to look the other way while children were sexually assaulted by Sandusky was followed from top to bottom, from the senior leadership of Penn State to the janitors who actually witnessed some of the abusive acts. There was a culture of denial at Penn State that allowed a pedophile to thrive and children to be harmed.
What is even more alarming is that this culture of denial not only exists in Penn State, but in our society at large. It exists in every American who is willing to look the other way when children are being sexually abused. It is in every individual who turns a blind eye to the problems of child abuse, pedophilia and child sex trafficking.
Statistics tell us that sexually abused children are 11 times more likely to be victims of human trafficking. Domestic minor sex trafficking is happening all around us but we often choose not to see it.
Just as work is underway at Penn State to expel the people and eradicate the systems that allowed for child sex abuse to continue there for decades, the Araminta Freedom Initiative is working to eradicate the cultural systems that allow child sex trafficking to continue in our own Baltimore neighborhoods.
Our children must be protected. This culture of denial must end. We as a society must wake up to the harm that is being done to the next generation. Our future depends on it.
If you want to join Araminta in fighting for our children, start here:
Mark Stephenson, Church Engagement Coordinator
Last Thursday night, I was on my way out the door to attend the final night of Araminta Freedom Initiative’s first ever Awake-Equip-Mobilize Training course. This was to be the last night of a five-week training for people who wanted to join Araminta in our mission to end domestic minor sex trafficking in the Baltimore region.
As a dad, sometimes it’s hard to leave the house in the evening knowing that I won’t be home to tuck my sons into bed. I enjoy our bedtime routine of reading books and saying “I love you” as much as my boys do. So, before I left I wanted to explain to my oldest son, who is almost three years old, where I was going and why I was going there.
I turned to my son and said, “I have to go to a meeting tonight, buddy.”
He asked, “Where are you going Daddy?”
“I have some friends that I have to meet with. We all made a group and this group helps save kids from bad guys,” I explained. “What bad guys?”
Trying to explain human trafficking to a child who isn’t even three years old was proving to be more difficult than I had first thought but I knew I had to try. “Well, there are some bad guys out there who want to hurt little kids. So my friends and I made this group that helps save the kids from the bad guys.”
My son thought for a few seconds and then made a reference to one of his favorite movies, Cars 2. “Bad guys like Grem and Acer?” I smiled and said, “Yes, just like Grem and Acer from Cars. They tried to hurt Lightening McQueen in the movie. And so my group of friends get together to try to make sure little kids don’t get hurt by the bad guys.” My son hopped down from the chair he was in and thought about our conversation for a couple minutes. Then, out of nowhere, he turned to me and asked, “Daddy, one day when I get bigger, can I be a part of your group and can I help save the kids from the bad guys?”
As you can imagine, my heart melted. My wife, hearing all of this from the next room, came in to see the rest of the conversation. I said, “Yeah, buddy, I would love for you to be a part of our group when you get bigger.” My son replied, “And you’ll be so proud of me?” At this point I was overwhelmed with love for my kid and had to give him hug. “Yeah, buddy,” I said. “I would be so proud of you.”
It was in this moment that my son reminded me that the commitment to end domestic minor sex trafficking in Baltimore is a generational commitment. One day, my son will pick up where I leave off. I have to wonder what the state of trafficking in the Baltimore region will be like the day he joins Araminta Freedom Initiative. How many girls will be rescued? How many children will be set free from the slavery of trafficking?
On Thursday, April 26, 2012, Araminta Freedom Initiative graduated 51 Certified Volunteers from its Awake-Equip-Mobilize Training course. After attending the first ever Araminta Action Night on February 19th in Towson, Maryland, these individuals were awakened to the devastating reality of domestic minor sex trafficking right here in the Baltimore region.
In many ways, this first class of dedicated volunteers is the beginning of the beginning. The scope of domestic minor sex trafficking is so large that the need for volunteers is enormous and the commitment must be a generational one. The hope of Araminta is that this will be the beginning of thousands of Certified Volunteers who will help bring an end to human trafficking in Baltimore. This is the beginning of the beginning. But one day, years from now, my son will be able to look back and say that this is when the tide of trafficking turned and when the hope for thousands of trafficked children was born.
Mark Stephenson, Church Engagement Coordinator
To join our next training this fall, contact firstname.lastname@example.org to be put on our contact list.
When faced with the atrocity of human trafficking, many people feel overwhelmed and that there is nothing they can do to help. But that is simply NOT TRUE.
The Araminta Freedom Initiative’s mission is to mobilize our community to end trafficking in tangible ways. Here is one way you can start fighting human trafficking in the Baltimore Region…TODAY!
Our partners and friends at TurnAround are opening a Transitional Living Home and Independent Living Home for survivors of sex trafficking. They still need several items to setup these homes, and they are so close to opening. Below is a Target Wish List of items they still need. By giving items on this list, you are allowing survivors to enter a safe, stable environment where the message they receive is that they are loved, wanted and cherished by our community.
Please consider what you can give and follow these simple steps to contribute.
Option 1: Online Shopping
1. View the Target Wish List here. (Items range from $5-$250)
2. Add Items to your cart and select items for “Melissa”. Items will ship directly to TurnAround.
Option 2: Shop in your local Target
1. Go to any Target store and look up TurnAround on their registry computers to shop for items.
2. Email Araminta at email@example.com to arrange for a volunteer to collect the items and deliver the item to TurnAround (Baltimore Region only).
Option 3: Purchase a Target Gift Card
1. Purchase a Target gift card in any amount.
2. Mail the giftcards to:
Araminta Freedom Initiative
PO Box 22106
Baltimore, MD 21203
3. Include your name and address, and you will be mailed a tax deductible receipt and confirmation of the gift to TurnAround.
Thank you for your support of TurnAround and the brave survivors they serve!
Welcome to the Araminta Freedom Initiative Blog and website! Today, we are thrilled to take the next step in our journey towards justice for trafficking victims. As we publicly launch the Araminta Freedom Initiative, we invite you and thousands of other Baltimore citizens to join us making our community traffic-free.
100,000-300,000 children at risk for trafficking every year. Those numbers are staggering. It is dark. It can seem hopeless. But there is hope. We have seen evil end, when ordinary people stand together and say “No More”. People following leaders like Martin Luther King Jr., Harriet Tubman and William Wilberforce, stood for freedom and justice. They were ordinary people but they changed the course of history and provided a better life for millions of oppressed people.
Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
We believe that if we, the people of Baltimore, stand together saying “We will no longer allow children to be trafficked in our city”, there will come a day when traffickers realize they can no longer do business in Baltimore because THE PEOPLE WILL JUST NOT ALLOW IT.
Will you join us?
The Araminta Freedom Initiative Founders