It’s hard to believe and uncomfortable to think about, but there are approximately 300,000 minors in the United States being exploited in the sex industry. The average age of entry into the world of exploitation is between 12-14 years. Many are run away or thrown away teens living on the streets and trying to support themselves.
Olson’s motto, “All Children have a right to safety”, has been her battle cry as she has taken the lead in advocating for children. Recognizing the relationship between abuse and prostitution, Olson founded Arizonans for the Protection of Exploited Children and Adults (APECA) in 2003. APECA offers support services, life skills workshops and activity nights for teens recovering from the after effects of self-injury and abuse.
One of APECA’s most important projects is Natalie’s House, a home being built through donations mostly from the local community through events such as bake sales, 5-K runs, as well as through the efforts of local church and other nonprofit groups. It will be the first home in the Valley specifically for victims of sexual exploitation and will serve as a safe haven for girls escaping from commercial sexual exploitation and abuse.
Janet says, “My experiences working on behalf of victims and my faith are driving forces that make me want to do everything I can to protect children and youth from the ravages of sexual trauma and abuse.”
To volunteer for APECA contact: www.Protectchild.org