February 22, 2018

First Ever Rescue Innocence Project Gala: Tackling Child Sexual Exploitation

Thank you for your support Alabama! We are elated at the advocacy efforts and encouragement from our friends in Birmingham, as we kick off our first ever Rescue Innocence Project Gala Thursday night and work to combat child sexual exploitation.

Melea Stephens and Patrick A. Trueman at Rescue Innocence Project Gala Interview

National Center on Sexual Exploitation President Patrick A. Trueman and Board Member Melea Stephens are in Birmingham with Ed Smart, father of Elizabeth Smart, a sexual exploitation survivor advocate. The three was featured Thursday morning on “Good Day Alabama” with host Janice Rogers.

On the show, Stephens explained that she didn’t understand the magnitude of the problem of pornography until she came into contact with children addicted to porn as young as 5 or 6 years old. As a therapist, she learned that many of her patients struggling with pornography addictions first viewed sexually explicit material as young children, sometimes only 4 or 5. Stephens was further confronted with the gravity of the problem when she began volunteering with sex trafficking victims and learned many of them had been forced to be the subject of pornography.

Smart reiterated the threat of pornography by recounting how the man who kidnapped and raped his daughter for nine months was exposed to pornography at a young age. Smart’s abuser, Brian Mitchell, though extreme, is not an anomaly. Many sexual predators have had similar exposure to pornography at a young age and all too often abused children grow up to become abusers.

Trueman reminded us that even though there is an increased need to protect our children, the gala in Alabama is a signal to hope for the future. Increasingly more people are finding the truth of our cause and mobilizing to make real change. Spreading our solution to child sexual exploitation has been and will continue to be difficult, but we are fortunate enough to continue to meet wonderful, good people who are up for the challenge.

Stephens closed the interview by explaining where proceeds from the event will go. Some funds from the fundraiser will go towards NCOSE’s efforts in DC, and all of the proceeds from the silent auction during the event will go towards supporting local efforts to establish an emergency shelter for young survivors of sexual exploitation.

NCOSE President Patrick Trueman and Board Member Melea Stephens also joined “Talk of Alabama” on ABC 33. Watch that interview here.

Rescue Innocence Project Gala Talk of Alabama

Meghan Hart

Communications Intern

Meghan Hart is wrapping up her undergraduate degree in Sociology from Brigham Young University with an internship at NCOSE.  At BYU, she focused on social issues as well as communications. In the future, she plans to pursue a career in research-driven social change. A Salt Lake City native, Meghan loves writing, running, and taquitos.

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