KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Across the U.S. a child is sold for sex every two minutes, according to officials. On average, they are 13 years old, and in Tennessee, nearly 100 children are sold for sex online per month.
A nonprofit, Street Hope Tennessee, opened Tennessee's first holistic, long-term safe home for child survivors of sex trafficking. It is called Garland Oaks and has 10 bedrooms for girls between 12 years old and 17 years old. It is meant to be a place where they can be safe and recover.
There are a lot of girls in line for one of these spots. Street Hope TN founder Devin Payne said they will house those with the greatest need and desire for healing.
"To be able to come along kids and say you are worthy is what we're trying to do at Garland Oaks," Payne said.
The girls' time at the home is long-term, Payne said. Their recovery journies will be about 18 months long, many without a family to return to.
"A lot of what we see is familial trafficking, which means most of these kids we get are going to come from DCS because they are not with their family," Payne said.
Payne said their goal is to help these girls acquire the tools and mental skills to become self-sufficient to build a sustainable future once they leave Garland Oaks.
Several state leaders have toured the home including District Attorney General Charme Allen, Senator Richard Briggs and Senator Becky Duncan Massey. Representative Jason Zachary also toured the home. Now you can take a virtual tour of the home from Street Hope TN's website.
Without a safe home, survivors of sex trafficking often feel hopeless as they try to find resources to help them recover. Street Hope TN, the nonprofit opening the safe home, works to prevent sex trafficking and help victims heal.
Anyone who wants to support the home can donate online or purchase items for the home's rooms. For example, the nonprofit said they are still looking for tables and chairs for the home's family room. There is also an Amazon registry of items the nonprofit needs.
Garland Oaks is also hiring employees to work at the house. Find available jobs here.