Produced and Directed by Christine Fantacone, Kelly Matheson, Ana Morse and Carol Smolenski for ECPAT USA and Witness.
The commercial sexual exploitation of children is one of the worst, yet unaddressed, forms of child abuse in the United States. It happens in every city and small town; it traps children of all backgrounds in violence and trauma. Despite their abuse, victims are frequently arrested, detained and even prosecuted as juvenile offenders. In this short documentary, we meet Katrina whose childhood as a good student in a middle class home abruptly ends when she is manipulated and sold for sex by a trafficker. Her compelling and emotional story takes us from Atlanta to New York City to Atlanta again, from desperation to recovery and success. Katrina’s inspiring story reminds us that with understanding, opportunity and support victims can become survivors.
This documentary brings together a diverse set of experts from juvenile justice, law enforcement, advocates, and services providers to speak about the traumatic effects of commercial sexual exploitation of children. They also share examples of how legislative reform measures and new approaches are helping shift our response from punitive to restorative. Katrina and experts in the field provide a glimpse of a cycle of violence and a broken system. However, the story does not end there. Katrina challenges us to see survivors in terms of their humanity, value and potential — not their past. Once we see exploited children in these terms, we realize our response to their trauma is in critical need of reform.