Back in May, ABC News reported on a disturbing trend that's growing in this country, child sex trafficking.
Sex trafficking, especially of minor girls, has risen in the United States, experts say. The average female prostitute in the United States is between 12 and 14 years of age. More than 250,000 American youth are at risk of becoming victims of commercial sexual exploitation, according to the Department of Justice.
Local photographer Pat Wright wanted to do something to help stop child sex trafficking and aid the victims as well. First, he joined the global organization, Love 146, which works to eliminate child sexual slavery and exploitation.
And money is what they need to combat the growing problem. Wright decided to put his talent to work so that he could help. He's donating a portion of the money he makes shooting weddings to Love 146 and raising awareness of sex trafficking on his blog, www.patwrightphotography.com
Creative Loafing: Why did you decide to use your photography to help bring awareness and funds to human trafficking?
Wright: My faith brings about a system of duty to stand up to injustice. That is already important to me and how I live my life. So, my businesses follow suit. One of the issues that came into that is that when I shoot these weddings, one of my favorite scenes is seeing the ring bearer and the flower girl. They just come running down the aisle, and they don't know what's going on; they're just happy and full of joy and innocence. It's a real beautiful thing. I have a six-year-old sister who is dear to me. Working with youth is something that is dear to my heart. I came across Love 146 about a year and a half ago. As my business started to grow, naturally for me it was how could I funnel this into their work? It just made sense to me.
How much money have you donated?
We've just started and are now just announcing the partnership. Five percent of every wedding that I shoot is going to [Love 146] in the month of February. And from what I already have on the books, it will be somewhere between $3,000 and $5,000 as it already is and more weddings are being booked as we speak. My goal for this year is to [donate] $6,000.
What was it about Love 146 that made you want to offer your financial support?
The work that they're doing and unfortunately, the age in which we live, you have people who say they are doing things and they're taking money. But when you follow that money, a lot of it is not being used for what it is being taken for. One of the things I loved about Love 146 is their transparency. You can go online and download their financial statements. For example, in 2008, they operated on a 25 percent budget. The rest of the money went back into their work. That was really important to me. And they deal with after care and prevention of child sex slavery and exploitation. The prevention side, they've gotten really creative on how they approach that.
How does this global organization have an impact locally?
In the U.S., they work mainly in educating the kids and adults who work with kids teachers, police officers, health care workers. Teaching them how to spot a kid that is potentially being exploited. They work through partnerships and collaborations. It's all about teaching teenage girls because if our kids can spot the wolves in the sheep's clothing, then they have a higher chance for avoiding exploitation.