A night for children's rights

Not in my neighborhood.  That is what many people think when they hear about child abuse and human trafficking.  In reality, these crimes occur in neighborhoods across the nation, and Charlotte is no exception. 

Still, there are numerous advocates who are standing up for victims and working to create awareness around these issues.  The Council for Children’s Rights recently shined a spotlight on child abuse and trafficking at their third annual benefit— A Night for Children’s Rights.  Key note speaker Carissa Phelps inspired a crowd of more than 750 with her personal story of triumph, overcoming a painful childhood on the streets to become a successful woman devoted to helping kids in need.   

Carissa’s life on the streets began at age 12, when she was abandoned by her mother.  She survived by shoplifting and scavenging food discarded by restaurants.  She quickly became trapped in the underworld of sex trafficking and found herself in juvenile detention. 

While locked up in juvenile detention, she attended classes, being challenged like never before.  She rose to that challenge and, for the first time, found that she was good at something.  Her self-confidence was nurtured by those around her and grew into a strong belief that she could turn her life around.

After her release, Carissa continued to carve her own path in life and work hard to achieve success.  She went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in math as well as a JD and MBA.  Today, she mentors young women and trafficking survivors like herself.  She has started her own organization, Runaway Girl, FPC, which provides jobs and professional development opportunities for runaways.  She has made it her mission to help children like her see their own potential and have hope for the future. 

This event also bid farewell to the Council’s long-time executive director, Bret Loftis, who is leaving to become CEO of The Crossnore School in Avery County, North Carolina.  For over 12 years, Loftis has worked tirelessly toward the goal of all children having the opportunity to grow up safe, healthy and educated.