Harris and Perez are organizing a “Breaking the Shackles” benefit concert to raise awareness and money for victims of child sex trafficking in the Atlanta area. The proceeds from the concert will go to the A Future. Not a Past. charity.
The concert will be from 7 to 9:30 p.m. May 18 at Johnson Ferry Baptist Church at 955 Johnson Ferry Road in Marietta. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at the door or in advance via www.itickets.com. Cash and checks will be accepted.
Headlining the concert is The Museum, a contemporary Christian rock band. Other performers are Against the Downpour, a local praise and worship band; Made Whole, a local band; and the Wheeler Funk Ensemble.
A crowd of about 500 young people is expected to attend the event, said Harris, 16.
Harris, a junior, said he first learned about the problem of child sex trafficking from a classmate. Carol McCraw, a physical education teacher, then placed him in contact with A Future. Not a Past. through her husband, a police officer.
“When I first heard it, I was wondering how a human being could do that to another human being, let alone a child,” Harris said of child sex trafficking.
“That really sparked me getting into all of this. I did some research and found that Atlanta is the capital in the nation for child sex trafficking.”
According to the FBI, Atlanta has become a national leader in the number of child sex trafficking cases, due largely to its status as an air and interstate transportation hub that connects to other major cities such as Miami, Dallas and Washington, D.C.
“These girls aren’t prostitutes; they’re slaves,” Harris said. “I like to think of me, Karina and anybody who is trying to fight human trafficking, in general, as modern day abolitionists.”
Perez, a senior, performs in Wheeler’s marching band with Harris and joined the cause after he began organizing the concert in December. Being a female, she said the issue hits home for her because most of the victims of child sex trafficking are girls.
“It breaks my heart to know that this is really happening,” said Perez, 17.
Spearheaded by the nonprofit youthSpark (formally Juvenile Justice Fund), A Future. Not A Past. is a campaign dedicated to stopping child sex trafficking, which it says has become a lucrative business in the state. According to research by the group, 400 adolescent girls are being exploited each month in Georgia on the streets, through escort services, online and male clients at major hotels.
“A Future. Not A Past. is extremely proud to have a student, especially a male student, who wants to use his platform to raise awareness about child sex trafficking and fund raise for our agency,” said Jennifer Swain, youthSpark’s campaign director.
“We rely heavily on community donations and support, so it’s always nice when anyone does this for our group. Education to young people is very important, and Cameron is helping us do that with this concert. The more young people are aware, the better they can protect themselves from predators that seek to exploit them.”
Harris, a Johnson Ferry Baptist member, said he hopes the benefit concert creates more awareness about the problem of child sex trafficking.
“We really want to raise money for this charity,” he said. “It’s not just about awareness, it’s about getting involved, trying to help the girls that are victims.”