Thursday, October 20, 2011

Prevention: Youth Work

Who invested in you when you were in jr. high?  High school?  I'm sure you still remember words they spoke over you and time they took just for you. When we reach our adolescent years it is highly important we have people other than our parents taking time out for us.  Parent-child communication is often falling apart at this stage in our lives and to have other, trusted adults pouring in to us can be the link that holds us to reality when the fantasies of the world seem so alluring.  This can be especially important for a child in a bad home situation.  It seems to me mentoring youth is one of the key elements in preventing sex-trafficking of minor, so if you're willing to invest your life in some kids around you, here are a few ideas:
  1. Youth Group.  If you go to church, you probably have a youth group.  Talk to the youth leader about what his or her volunteer needs are.  Ask what prayer needs they have and spend a few months in prayer over the group.  Then, when you're ready and the church has approved (most groups have some sort of application and background check process), jump in!  
  2. Boys and Girls Club. Volunteering with and mentoring potentially at-risk youth.
  3. Big Brother, Big Sister.  Volunteering with and mentoring potentially at-risk youth.
  4. CASA. Court Appointed Special Advocate.  This is a great way to work with foster kids without going through the pain of foster parenting. From the website: "Volunteers get to know the child by talking with everyone in that child's life; parents and relatives, foster parents, teachers, medical professionals, attorneys, social workers and others. They use the information they gather to inform judges and others of what the child needs and what will be the best permanent home for them."  Working with CASA you may just be the person who gets a child out of an abusive foster home or prevents him or her from going back to a dangerous biological one.
  5. Volunteer at your local jr. high or high school.
  6. Be a friend. As simplistic as it sounds, be a friend to your friends' children, your younger cousins, your nieces and nephews, etc.  Abuse happens everywhere, even in the lives of those you may be closest to.  Keep your eyes, ears, and heart open to the kids around you and be a safe place they can come to if need be.

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