By Timothy Metcalf
The second session of the Students Stopping the Trafficking of Persons (SSTOP) conference happened Feb. 18 at 7 p.m. About 40 attendees heard from Rev. Jim Ellison, director of development for Street Grace, an anti-human-trafficking organization, and watched the organization’s short film “Candyshop.”
Street Grace is based in Atlanta and began four years ago when the mayor called for the church to fight the commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) in Atlanta. Initially, eight area churches made up the organization, but it has since grown to include other organizations as well. It is primarily devoted to raising awareness of CSEC and preventing young girls from becoming sex slaves.
The short film “Candyshop” is Street Grace’s main tool for raising awareness of sex trafficking. It’s an allegory for human trafficking; a character called the Candyman (basically, Willy Wonka, if he were a homicidal pedophile) uses a machine to transform little girls into lollypops, which he sells to men. An ordinary boy manages to stop the Candyman and transform the lollypops back into girls, allegorically telling us that anyone can help stop sex trafficking.
Street Grace also works with girls at risk of being targeted for CSEC to help keep them safe. It partners with several organizations that provide counseling and mentoring to these girls, and one of its initiatives is working to feed vulnerable children so they won’t be tempted into slavery by promises of food.