As the Director of Prevention at Love146, I spend a lot of time thinking—and talking to people — about why it is so important to bring our prevention curriculum, Not a Number, to vulnerable and at-risk children. As I reflected recently on the many conversations our team has had, I thought of the one phrase we’ve heard repeated countless times — by youth, caregivers, and the professionals who work with them. “If only I’d known.”
If only I’d known… I wouldn’t have gone to that party.
If only I’d known… I would have asked more questions.
If only I’d known… I wouldn’t have sent that picture.
If only I’d known… I would have asked for help.
If only I’d known… I would have done so much differently.
My first experience with this phrase is deeply etched in my mind: I was sitting across from a young girl in a small office in Houston. She shared that she had met a group of people — people she thought would be there for her. People who, as time progressed, she thought were her friends. She shared that things began to change, but that 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.
Every element of our program is designed to change the course of these conversations by giving youth information and developing their skills so that they know what to do in those critical moments.
Imagine a world where this young girl had been taught how to identify the red flags of a relationship moving from healthy to unhealthy.
If she had been given the skills to safely navigate that situation. If she had known how to ask for help. This is the world we are helping to build through Not a Number.
We now have Not a Number facilitators in 13 states — and much of that momentum is in part thanks to your support. To keep this work moving forward, you can give here. And if you happen to work in a school or youth-serving agency and want to consider being certified to implement Not a Number in your community, learn more here. Thank you for making this work possible