For sex-trafficked children there is no such thing as a merry Christmas, but one fledgling east Texas nonprofit is determined to make this holiday season special for 12 sexually-exploited boys.
Liberty Task Force, a Christian faith-based organization, hopes to bring Yuletide cheer to the youths they champion.
“Right now, we are serving 12 boys and hope to give them a memorable Christmas,” said Tasha Meyer, founder and president of the grassroots start-up. They offer programs to mentor and rehabilitate at-risk male minors, some who live in a Tyler area foster shelter; others, in a juvenile detention center.
To Meyer’s delight, Tyler-based Kawas Hibachi Grill gifted a pre-Christmas lunch Sunday to Liberty Task Force. Eight of the youths were able to attend. A Target in Tyler provided a $200 gift card towards Christmas presents for all 12 boys, Meyer told Breitbart Texas.
Liberty Task Force relies on tax-deductible donations to fund their efforts throughout the year. For Christmas, Meyer created a Christmas “wish list” for the boys on Amazon. It is full of basic necessities such as pajamas, underwear, sweatshirts, winter coats, sneakers, shirts, pants, and boots. Also listed are duffel bags, important for children who, when shuttled through the foster care system, often move from house to house with nothing more than a plastic trash bag to hold their few personal belongings, said Meyer.
The mother of three young children, Meyer founded Liberty Task Force in 2012 to raise awareness about sex trafficked and at-risk boys, Breitbart Texas reported. While many people associate child prostitution and sexual exploitation with girls, sex trafficking of boys is “vastly underreported,” according to And Boys Too, a 2013 white paper by End Child Prostitution and Trafficking (ECPAT-USA). Likewise, The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in New York City, a 2008 study from John Jay College and the Center for Court Innovation, estimated as high as 50 percent of sexually exploited children in the United States were boys.
“Our hope is that we can stop the demand of sex trafficking by reaching and changing the lives of boys ages 6-17 years old who are most at-risk for later becoming sexual perpetrators,” added Meyer. Many of these rescued boys came to Liberty Task Force through the foster care system. In 2012, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children reported a troubling reality: 67 percent sex trafficked children were in social services or foster care when they ran away. One year later, they noted one in seven endangered runaways were likely sex trafficked.
Even more tragic, the life expectancy of a child prostitute is seven years, says Florida-based Child Rescue Network. Too many of these youngsters are homeless, runaways, or thrown away by their families.
Meyer is particularly proud of “Empowering Young Men,” the nation’s premiere prevention curriculum developed by the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation (CAASE). It trains adolescents and teens how to break the cycle of sexual violence, exploitation and trafficking. Liberty Task Force folded it into a larger “We are Warriors” Biblically-based behavior modification program. Meyer hopes to add “warrior” camps next year.
“The programs we have created are a means to prevent boys from growing up into the pimp/trafficker culture,” said Meyer. She explained that when children are sex trafficked they often accept it as a way of life.
In addition to the Christmas “wish list,” another way the public can support Liberty Task Force over the holiday season and/or year-round is through monetary donations so the Texas 501 (c)(3) non-profit can continue to help these and more boys. All contributions are tax-deductible and can be made directly on Liberty Task Force’s website.
If interested in helping, visit Liberty Task Force online to learn more about their programs and their Christmas drive.
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