Sextortion in Schools: Advice for Educators

Students are growing up in a world of social media. Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat — these are today’s gathering places. The space where youth engage in the normal adolescent behavior of exploring and testing their boundaries. As a preventative measure, we want to teach kids how to safely navigate the Internet, how to recognize when something may be getting out of control, and how to access help when needed.


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“They look after me like I am their daughter.”

When Jelena first came to our care, she wouldn’t discuss what happened to her, but little by little, she has begun to open up and process. Jelena enjoys caring for the animals on the Love146 farm, going to school, and she recently won first place in the rope jumping contest.


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Take Action: It should be illegal for a website to sell your child

As a parent, you have a miraculous connection to your child. That connection is the fuel that propels you out of bed in the middle of the night when a baby cries, soothes tears when a child falls and scrapes her knee, or is the last one picked for the team. And when the worst happens, when your child goes missing, when your little girl becomes someone else’s Jane Doe, sold on Backpage.com, you harness the synergy of that miraculous connection and put that same determination into changing. the. law.


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Beyond Resilience

Resilience generally means the ability to bounce back or recover from trauma or difficulties. In the physical sense, resilience is the ability of a material to resume its shape, after being deformed. For the children in our care at the Love146 safe homes in the Philippines, resilience means more than that.


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Reaching New Heights: Our Growing UK Team

This is both a challenging and exciting time for the Love146 UK team. More children than ever need the support we offer, and we have just taken steps towards serving more young people with the addition of several new team members. Growing our capacity is one of the practical ways that we offer young people the very best that we can.


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“If Only I’d Known”

My first experience with this phrase is deeply etched in my mind: A young girl shared that she had met a group of people — people she thought were her friends. When things began to change, she wasn’t aware what was happening until it was too late. She said, “If only I’d known then what I know now.” These “friends” became her traffickers. They identified her vulnerability and need for connection, and they skillfully exploited it.


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A Story for Those About to Give Up on Abolition

Giving up is never the right answer. Reevaluating, yes, reimagining, of course — but never giving up. Yet that was nearly the end result of one Volunteer Team after a year of floundering. What a mistake that would have been. They rebounded with more impact than they had considered possible. Here’s how it all went down.


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Inspiring Action: Why Being on a Volunteer Team Matters

When people hear about child trafficking and exploitation they want to do something about it. But the issue is daunting, and thinking about what you can do tangibly to make a difference is vexing. We get it. We want you to know that engaging with a grassroots movement in your community, such as a Love146 Volunteer Team, is one of the most powerful and impactful actions anyone can take towards making a safer world for children. Here’s why.


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Children Who’ve Had To Live As Adults

Many say they can’t relate to others their age; they date older men, and explain to me that since they’re more mature they need to be with more mature men. They see other children their age as “kids,” whereas they themselves are “adults.”

I’m in this sticky position where I need to acknowledge the fact that they have been through more than any child should have to go through, and yet encourage them to be a child. To put down that burden of “adulthood,” and to experience childhood. They deserve to be children.


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The Art of Not Asking Questions

At Love146, we cultivate a long-lasting relationship that models healthy boundaries and allows the youth to “dig” when they feel safe, trusted, and valued. Youth then allow us to bear witness to their stories in their own time, in their own way. They are in control, which is one of the most important things we can restore to their lives.


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Can we just take a minute to celebrate the cutest tiny friendship ever?

These two little ones have a lot in common. They’re both from the same region. Peter is four, and Yamile turned four last summer. They both came to into our Survivor Car around the same time, at the age of two. Today, in 2017, they’re practically joined at the hip. They walk to school together with a Love146 staff member every morning and sometimes go swimming together in the afternoons in the pool at the White Home.


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Who are these children? They are scholars.

Whenever we were with the children in public places, people would ask, “Who are all these children? Are they siblings?” I would say, they are cousins or they are playmates, or just ignored the question. Now I have determined that Love146 children will be called “scholars” instead of “clients” as they would be called in all the other safe homes or shelters in the Philippines. The children’s eyes lit up when they heard the word “scholar.” And as I explained why “scholar” is an appropriate term for them, I thought I saw great self-worth dawning upon their faces.


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“I used to think I was invisible. But you see me.”

Our Rapid Responses help youth understand how a perpetrator uses manipulation, tricks, and force to take advantage of them. We talk about how easy it is to be taken advantage of. How everyone has things they need, things they struggle with, and how someone could use these things to build trust for the sole purpose of exploitation. This may be the first time that he or she is told: “It is not OK that someone treated you this way.” It may be the first time they hear: “It is not your fault.” Or that: “You are valuable and important.”


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What is the first night of freedom like?

She’s still a little nervous as she gets out of the car, walks through the garden. This brick path has carried many young people with heavy histories and cautious steps. But she’s grinning from ear to ear, taking in the plants and the cricket song and the sweet night air.


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Brianna’s Story

“I’ve heard of pimps and I knew to be scared of them – but I didn’t realize that the person I thought was protecting me was actually my pimp.”

— Brianna, one of more than 200 youth who have been served by our U.S. Survivor Care program


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These girls.

These girls are fighting daily for everything they deserve, despite what they’ve been dealt. When we sell them short, we hold back all of humanity.


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I look around to see if people notice…

I open my email and begin reading the details about another youth coming into our care. I’m infuriated that another kid has experienced this. Infuriated that another adult thought it was okay to use a child as a sex object. Infuriated that all the adults who should have protected this child, have failed her so horrifically.


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The power of a stable relationship

What makes my work with Love146 so special is that no matter how many times a young person is uprooted or shuffled around from place to place, I can promise them that I’ll stick around. Our relationship to them won’t be uprooted and wiped away.


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Jade

Suddenly, all of her usual sarcasm and joking disappeared. Jade began to share that the hurtful things that she’d heard from the people raising her. She just wanted to feel at home somewhere, but they made her feel like she was “more than they could handle.” That moment was so heavy — she just sat there, brave and silent, with these feelings of rejection, waiting to see how I would respond.


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Five stages of getting excited for the future

When you’re in the middle of grief and anger, it’s hard to see yourself as a creative participant in your own bright future. But we believe this is possible. So do a lot of kids in Love146’s survivor care — and they have powerful things to teach us about the beauty of what is to come for each one of us.


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My real-life heroes

We had people over for the Super Bowl last weekend. We had a Patriots themed party for goodness sakes, with Patriots plates and napkins and cups and banners. But really? I had this persistently surreal moment and all I could keep thinking is: It’s a game. It’s not real life.


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To Hazel, on Your Thirteenth Birthday

Thirteenth birthdays are a big deal. And today, we want to celebrate a very special one. It taught us all something about generosity and the power of one person, no matter how young, to change the world.


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What would you say to a survivor of child trafficking?

A group of teens in Pennsylvania wanted to engage with the issue of child trafficking. After spending an evening learning about the issue and serving Love146 behind the scenes, they asked themselves what kind of words could bring hope and healing to a young person in a situation like this. Here are some of their messages — and if you have survived something yourself, these letters are for you, too.


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When someone you’re trying to help spits at you… literally

I met with a high-risk youth so we could talk and do some safety planning. She made clear that she wasn’t going to cooperate, that there was nothing I could say that would matter to her. That is, until I mentioned sexual assault, how it was never the fault of the person who got hurt. Then, something happened that surprised both of us.


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A Child’s First Silent Night

Does the moment described in “Silent Night” have anything to offer to people who are suffering? What difference does one calm, loving scene make in this world where so few know peace?


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All is calm? All is bright?

For a lot of us, the holiday season has its challenges. It reminds us how things “ought to be,” and we may find ourselves wishing our lives and families looked more like the happy, healthy ones we see in movies and Christmas cards. This is true for many children in Love146’s global survivor care programs. We’re determined to do whatever it takes to help them feel important and loved during the holidays!


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1 minute videos that will change your day…

The children in our care are not voiceless. Translated from their language, tagalog, the words in these videos below are directly from the boys and girls in our care in the Philippines. There is no silver lining to being trafficked or exploited, but there is a shining resilience in humanity that refuses to be extinguished.


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Sonya’s Story…

Sonya recently told us: “I am building my life, piece by piece. Despite everything that happened to me, I believe there’s a wonderful plan for my life. I am determined to unravel the future waiting for me.”


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We lit our candle from hers.

Some days it feels foolish to believe like this, to tend our defiant hope against so much darkness. But this holiday season, inspired by children, we’re determined to keep our candles burning longer and brighter. As one child in our survivor care has said, “When we are given light, we should give that light to others.”


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Wow.

We’re so grateful for those of you who gave today. For every donation, there is a child who will feel your support making a difference in their life. We’re moved by the reasons that each person chooses to give – here are a few of those things our supporters shared…


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“Mankind owes to the child the best it has to give.”

Fifty-seven years ago today, the United Nations officially adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child. It states in its opening that “mankind owes to the child the best it has to give.” This year, on International Children’s Day, we need to ask ourselves: are we, the adults of humankind, giving children the best we have to give?


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On Compassion…

So much of my work with Love146 leads me back to that place of anger and grief. Each time I have to go there, I want to hide from it, step around it, seal it up. But the day that happens — the day I’m no longer affected by the pain of another person — is the day compassion ends for me.


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“We should treat ourselves as princes and princesses instead of slaves.”

For children whose needs and agency have not been respected, self-care helps them learn how strong and important they are. “Before, other people controlled my life. Now, I have control over myself,” says Cate. And that transformation can start with things as simple as brushing their teeth, taking their vitamins, or washing their hands before they eat.


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BEEKEEPING IN OUR SURVIVOR CARE

What’s the buzz at the Love146 safe homes? Six new hives of stingless bees! Under the children’s care, the safe homes are reaching a new level of sustainability. Seeing kids collaborate so beautifully with nature, we’re reminded that cultivation is very, very different from exploitation.


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What a Laptop Means in Survivor Care

Some days, a bright future seems too good to be true. But when you walk into class on the first day of university and see your very own laptop light up on the desk in front of you, anything seems possible.


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New York: Advocate for NYS Bill A8650B

Urge Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign a new bill that would provide training for physicians, nurses, social workers, and other clinical care and security personnel to identify, assess, and provide appropriate treatment or referral for people suspected of being human trafficking victims.


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Why fighting bullying fights child trafficking.

October is national Anti-Bullying Month, and we are struck by the ways in which Not a #Number, Love146’s child trafficking and exploitation prevention program, can create a space where youth feel safe to share about their experiences — ways they’ve been hurt, ways they’ve hurt others — and learn strategies to build their resilience, identify support systems, and increase their empathy.


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A Second Chance at Childhood

We can’t undo the events that made them grow up so fast. But we can show them that there is so much more to who they are than these experiences. When a survivor in our care starts to breath deeper, laugh, discover who they are and what they’re passionate about, and experience their childhoods… that’s the day abolition arrives in their life.


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“HOLD ONTO THOSE DREAMS”

Hong escaped exploitation a year ago. Now that freedom is starting to catch up with her, she’s learning how to keep her hopes for the future alive in the present.


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Why?

I’ll never forget the first time that my youngest son recognized that I was a different color than him.


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From Responsibility to Renewal

It’s harder to feel useless when the little tomato garden is growing healthy under your care. It’s harder to believe that nobody has hope in your future when a grown-up is reminding you to take your vitamins. It’s harder to believe you’re unlovable when the baby goat comes running to you every morning.


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A story I wish I didn’t have to tell

Every child who comes to our safe home door means we as a society have been too late. Nevertheless, we persist. Because every child is precious. Because we have seen again and again that love can overcome.


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Other Children

Without a focus on justice, there’s a dark possibility that for every child we care for, another spot for a child to be victimized is vacated. Hear about what motivates the children in our Survivor Care Program who choose to testify against their exploiters in court…


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