This month at Intent, we are spotlighting important organizations, individuals, and causes giving back to their community in unique and creative ways. Today I would like to share about a new documentary called PLAYGROUND that exposes the hard-to-look-at truth that hundreds of thousands of children are manipulated and traded in an underground sex trade right here in our backyards. As I’ve written about before, the issue child trafficking in the United States is an issue I feel particularly compelled to bring awareness to, in part because I think it’s so often swept under the rug and lost in the shadow of campaigns to end sex trafficking in “sexier” countries overseas.
The fact is, if we want to end sex trafficking worldwide, we have to be willing to see and support the children who LITERALLY walk our own streets… kids who have been branded “prostitutes” and “juvenile offenders” by many American courts because many states simply don’t have laws and policies to protect them. And that begins with exactly what this film is doing: simply making people aware that they exist.
A few important facts to be aware of:
- US citizens account for 25% of sex tourists worldwide, and as much as 80% in Latin America
- The number one destination for Americans seeking sex with a child is the United States
- 300,000 American children have been forced into the sex trade
- There are 636,910 registered sex offenders in the US
In PLAYGROUND, filmmaker Libby Spear follows the trail of a missing 12-year old girl whose first encounter with sexual abuse began at age five. The documentary chronicles her five-year search to find her and hear this child’s story. Along the way, Libby interviews sex offenders, former pimps, and other major players in the child sex trade. As far as I can tell (and I haven’t seen it yet), this documentary is a trailblazer in shedding light on the epidemic of child sex trafficking in the United States.
Okay, so what can you do to support this cause? Well Libby’s film is ready to go, but in order to get it in front of audiences across America she needs funding to release and distribute it. Since the film premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival, there have been hundreds of emails from schools, churches, law enforcement departments, researchers asking to view and screen it in their home community. So Libby has started a Kickstarter campaign to raise the funds necessary to get it in the hands of as many people as possible.
Last I checked, PLAYGROUND is around 65% funded, and if they don’t raise the money by Wednesday, June 20th, all the funds raised so far will be lost. To be clear, I have never met Libby and she didn’t ask me to write this post. A friend who I used to work with in yoga program for kids effected by sex trafficking in Texas shared the trailer with me, and I felt like Intent readers should see it. I hope you’ll join me in supporting Libby’s Kickstarter campaign: