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‘Stop Violence’ event set for Jan. 10

By Kalin Thomas Contributing Writer | 1/4/2013, noon

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A young boy closes his eyes in prayer during a recent candlelight vigil commemorating the one-year anniversary of the death of a DeKalb County teenager killed by police in 2011. A new public safety initiative is designed to curb violence against and among youth.(Photo by Vincent Christie).

ATLANTA –The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) will re-launch its “Stop the Violence” initiative with a “Justice for Girls” event 6-8 p.m. Jan. 10 at Organix Food Lounge in the Old Fourth Ward.

The civil rights organization will outline the Justice For Girls initiative, a program designed to address the sex trafficking of young girls.

Quoting FBI statistics for 2009, the SCLC says the sexual exploitation of children has become the third largest moneymaker for organized crime in the U.S.

“We want to start with educating parents on how to protect their children, and to teach children how they are being targeted – especially on the internet,” said Cathelean Steele, the Stop the Violence director and wife of SCLC chief executive officer, Charles Steele.

“We want to target schools, community centers, churches and anywhere that you find children,” she added.

The initiative aims to develop public awareness and safety through community health models, capacity building for public policy and nonviolent approaches.

“We plan to have workshops, training sessions and fundraising events. And at 10 a.m. Jan. 8 we’ll have a community forum at Georgia Hills Community Center to ask the community what they feel needs to be addressed as we develop our programs,” she said.

A second strategy of the Stop The Violence initiative is called Street Peace, Steele said.

“The program is still in development, but we want to show young people that death is permanent and there are other alternatives to solve conflict,” she said.

Steele added that the “Stop the Violence” initiative will have ambassadors to help get the word out, including civil rights activists and Trumpet Awards founder, Xernona Clayton.

The initiative will also include mass participation in the march to commemorate the 50th anniversary of civil rights movement’s “March on Washington” in August.