Some 600,000 soccer fans will descend on Rio De Janeiro when the World Cup kicks off on June 12, and while the world prepares for its biggest sporting event, Brazil's churches are doubling efforts to the fight the darker side of the World Cup. Rio De Janeiro has a tragic reputation as being a haven for sex trafficking, and local churches are launching campaigns to raise awareness about the horrors of child sex abuse. UNICEF estimates that nearly 250,000 children are sexually abused in Brazil every year, with major sporting events fueling those numbers. Research from Childhood Brazil says reported sex crimes against children increased by a staggering 66 percent in South Africa's 2010 World Cup. As Ronald Neptune, national coordinator of Bola na Rede, which provides tourists with information to combat child sex abuse, told Religion News Service,
Over the last three years, we’ve been preparing churches in the 12 cities, encouraging them to mobilize their congregations so they actively do something in the days leading up to and during the World Cup ...As Christians, we can’t just clap our hands and praise the Lord, we have to work to make a difference to the lives of the young people at risk,” he said. “We can be the eyes and ears on the streets and the motivating force that gets people out leafleting and speaking to tourists about how they can be vigilant to help protect our children.
This week, area churches plan on gathering for prayer and mobilizing to pass out information to tourists on how to protect children ... Discuss
The pro-life movement is getting more racially diverse, more secular and more educated. According to new research from the Public Religion Research Institute, anti-abortion advocates from the ages of 18-29 look significantly different from their senior counterparts. For their research, the institute compared several demographic factors from the Millennial group with pro-lifers over the age of 65. Read More
As New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium prepares to host the Super Bowl on Feb. 2, officials in the state are ramping up their efforts to fight sex trafficking. U.S. Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey is the co-chairman of the House anti-human trafficking caucus. He told the AP, "New Jersey has a huge trafficking problem. One Super Bowl after another after another has shown itself to be one of the largest events in the world where the cruelty of human trafficking goes on for several weeks." The state has set up new training programs for law enforcement officers, hospitality industry workers and transportation employees, teaching them the signs of what to look for to identify women and even children who may be the victims of sex trafficking.
The state’s Attorney General, John J. Hoffman, said, "We've enlisted basically every service provider that people coming to the Super Bowl are going to run into. There are a lot of eyes that are going to be on their activities and going to be on spotting potential victims of this crime." Officials say that because New York is such a large city and the stadium is in close proximity to a complex highway system, sex trafficking victims are at greater risk. Even the NFL is getting involved. The league held a special meeting recently to have members of its security team receive training from law enforcement officers who specialize in human trafficking and child prostitution ... Discuss
Sarah Hagan was advised by her doctors to abort her child, after a 24-week ultrasound revealed that her unborn child was brain dead, only had one eye and had no chance of survival. Hagan said physicians gave her an abortion drug designed for women much earlier in their pregnancies, and when that didn't work, informed her that she'd need to go into delivery immediately. Hagan did, and she had Aaron—a healthy boy with both eyes, whose only complications stem from his premature birth, something Hagan says is the hospital's fault. Aaron is fifteen months old and doing well, and his mother is considering legal action ... Discuss
Karla Begley is an Ontario woman whose 13-year-old son, Max, suffers from severe autism. She came home one day to find a really and truly appalling letter taped to her door. You can read an excerpt of it below, and it all get so much worse, if you can even believe it. The letter's author, who identifies herself as "one p****d off mother," goes on to suggest that whatever "non retarded" body parts Max has should be given to science and he should be "euthanized." Click here if you want to read the whole thing, but be warned: it is a deeply unpleasant reading.
In case you needed a reminder that all is not lost, Karla said that the neighborhood has rallied around her and Max, and are all pitching in to find the letter's author and possibly bring charges against her ... Discuss
Recently, Google announced it was working on a new program that could eliminate all images of child pornography and child abuse from the Internet.
As part of the $5 million initiative, the Internet giant is creating a technology that will be able to identify the images and filter out the sites that contain them from showing in search results. The program works by tagging offending images with unique IDs and “fingerprints” so computers can later recognize them without humans having to view the images. Read More