In 2017, the Louisiana Department of Child and Family Services reported a 25 percent increase in the number of sexual exploitation victims. More than a quarter of the reported cases came from New Orleans, spurring Volunteers of America to expand its mentoring services to eradicate sex trafficking among our youth. This program is funded by the Office of Juvenile Delinquent Prevention and free of charge to participants. Sexual exploitation victims are matched with highly-trained volunteer mentors who provide a source of encouragement as victims receive case management and social work services to assist their growth into adulthood.
The effects of sexual exploitation can be dramatic. Many sexually exploited youth face realities of drug use, homelessness, past trauma and other factors which have lead them into the survival sex trade. Other youth may have no such history and may have been lured, tricked or forced into being sexually exploited. Regardless of their personal history and life experience, these young people benefit from a safe, stable and supportive network and compassionate mentors to allow them to reach their full promise.
How Volunteers of America Protects Sexual Exploitation Victims
This mentoring program focuses on one of the most vulnerable populations – victims of sexual exploitation. Children in exploitative situations and relationships receive something such as gifts, money or affection as a result of performing sexual activities or others performing sexual activities on them. Volunteers of America pairs each youth with a caring adult who serves as a role model, confidant and friend to provide a pathway to a positive future. Our program collaborates and partners with local agencies to provide a variety of supportive services including case management as well as linkages to legal assistance and social work services.
The program targets youth 17 and under who are victims of sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking who reside in the 16 parishes served by Volunteers of America Southeast Louisiana. It offers intensive case management and both individual and group mentoring to increase a young person’s ability to become a healthy, stable and self-sufficient adult after overcoming sexual exploitation.
What is Sexual Exploitation?
Sexual exploitation is the sexual abuse of children and youth through the exchange of sex or sexual acts for drugs, food, shelter, protection, other basics of life and/or money. Sexual exploitation includes involving children and youth in creating pornography and sexually explicit websites. Studies show that sexually exploited youth are at increased risk of rape, sexual assault, sexually transmitted infections, physical violence, substance abuse and trafficking. Sexual exploitation can rob our youth of their once promising future.
For more information about the Forever Promising and Powerful Futures Program or to find out how to become a mentor, contact Program Manager Sherlyn Hughes at 504.836.8701 or email@example.com.
Number of confirmed and prospective youth sexual exploitation victims in Louisiana in 2017
Number of youth sex trafficking victims in Orleans Parish in 2017
Female youth make up the vast majority of sexual exploitation victims
The production of this content was supported by grant number 2017-MU-FX-0025, awarded by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this content are those of the contributors and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.