WEST HILLS, Calif.—The following appeal is from Don Austen, the founder of Thursday’s Child, who is trying everything he can to keep his national charity alive. Thursday’s Child’s 30-year mission to protect at-risk youth is itself at risk due to a severe lack of funding. Don tells me that a few thousand dollars is the immediate need that will keep their doors and hotlines open. But we as an industry can do better than that. I have sent out a few emails to specific people on behalf of the organization, with no response. This article is a more general attempt to drum up support for a charity—I would call it a necessity—that is as sorely needed as at any time in recent memory. Just the night before last I was speaking with Don when a call came in. He emailed to tell me it was a teen from Kansas so desperate about the bullying she was experiencing at school that she was cutting herself. Don immediately made calls to her school and others, in search of direct assistance for the girl. But what would have happened had he not been there to answer the call? What if the hotlines no longer work? What happens when there is no longer a place to turn for help?
A Message from Don Austen, Founder of Thursday's Child:
Thursday's Child is a 28-year-old charity for endangered children and teens that runs a series of 24-hour nationwide hotlines under the umbrella of (800) USA-KIDS, for children who are abused, missing, exploited, anorexic, bulimic, suicidal, cutters, bullied, have issues with drugs or alcohol, prostitution, pregnancy, STDs or just life in general. But donations have been well below the poverty level. With no salaries ever taken by any employee, with roughly 25,000 children helped each year, 2010 has been to Thursday’s Child what 2012 portends to be for the rest of the world.
Only about $4,000 have been contributed this year, $1,000 of which came from the Spearmint Rhino, because its co-owner, Kathy Vercher, knows that a lot of the women she employs had backgrounds of sexual abuse and have suffered from eating disorders and cutting.
The charity has barely squeaked by each month, and now it’s down to the wire. The hotlines are unique to the toll-free directory. There is no other missing children or child abuse or bullying hotline listed. There is no other hotline for anorexia or bulimia or cutting or date rape—or any kind of rape, for that matter.
It would be a shame for services such as those Thursday’s Child offers to be lost because the haves didn’t find it in themselves or their wallets to give to the have-nots. It should not have to take a jaws-of-life to pry open people’s hearts. Many in the adult entertainment industry have shied away from children’s causes, because they don’t want any misconception of their motivation, and yet Thursday's Child caused more than 30 child pornography websites to be shut down in 2008, including the Florida-based Webe Web that involved more than 100 underage girls.
AVN has sent out requests for assistance to some adult businesses without response. The buck should not have to stop here or anywhere else. When there are children’s lives at stake, one or two steak dinners can be sacrificed.
For more information or to send a donation to Thursday’s Child, please visit the organization’s website at www.thursdayschild.org.
Some Facts about Services Provided by Thursday’s Child
Child Abduction Hotline—800.872.5437 (800-USA-KIDS). (No other such hotline exists.)
Child Exploitation Hotline—866.210.3388. (The National Center for Mission and Exploited Children, funded $50 million a year by Congress, have a hotline, but it is not listed with the 800 directory, nor is it manned by caseworkers after hours.)
Child Pornography Tip Line—866.628.7494. (No other such hotline exists.)
Children's Hotline—866.210.5227. (No other such hotline exists.)
• 90 percent of self-injury individuals begin harming themselves during their teen years or younger.
• Almost 50 percent of cutters or self-injury individuals have reported being sexually abused.
Cybertip Hotline—866.628.7494. (No other such hotline exists; the National Center offers only online reporting.)
Date Rape Hotline—800.872.5437 (800.USA.KIDS). (No other such hotline exists; there is the RAINN hotline started by singer Tory Amos, but they are not listed with directory.)
Drug Addiction Hotline for Teens—866.210.5228. (No other such hotline exists.)
Drug Abuse Helpline for Teens—866.210.5228. (No other such hotline exists.)
Eating Disorders Hotline for Teens—866.210.3388. (The National Eating Disorders Association offers a hotline that is not listed with directory and is only available for a few hours a day Monday-Friday.)
Exploited Child Hotline—866.210.5429. (No other such hotline is listed with directory services.)
Hotline for Teens—888.329.5244. (No other such hotline exists.)
Internet Predator Tipline—866.210.3388. (No other such hotline exists; the National Center offers only online reporting)
Missing Children Hotline—866.628.7494. (No other national missing chlldren hotline is listed with directory services, even by their name. According the the FBi, the life expectancy of a stranger-abducted child is 2-3 hours.)
Narcotics Helpline for Teens—866.210.5429. (No other such hotline exists.)
National Missing Children Hotline—866.210.5228. (No other missing children hotline is listed with directory, even by name.)
National Youth Advocacy Hotline—888.329.5244. (No other such hotline exists.)
Peer Pressure Hotline for Teens—888.329.5244. (No other such hotline exists.)
Prostitution Helpline for Teens—888.329.5244. (No other such hotline exists under this category; there is a hotline but you need to know their name to get their number.)
Runaway Hotline—866.210.5231. (Ours is the only one listed with directory.)
STD Hotline for Teens—866.210.5230. (The Centers for Disease Control CDC offers a hotline but they are not listed with directory.)
Suicide Hotline for Teens—866.210.3388. (The National Suicide Hotline, 1 800 273-TALK, funded $3.5 million by the Federal government, is not listed with directory services.)
• Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death among young adults and adolescents 15 to 24 years of age.
• Suicide ranks highest among Native American youth (along with alcoholism).
• Attempted suicide ranks highest among female Hispanic teens.
Teen Hotline—866.210.5228. (No other such hotline exists.)
Teen Helpline—866.210.5227. (No other such hotline exists.)
Teen Pregnancy Hotline—866.210.5227. (No other such hotline exists.)
Youth Crisis Hotline—866.210.9795. (No other such hotline exists)
Live Internet Support—We have the only hotline that offer live (real time) Internet support. We do this through Skype.
Crisis Counseling and Intervention
Assistance with Skip Tracing for Parental Abductions
Child Abuse Reporting and Follow-up Assistance (No other non-governmental hotline will assist in child abuse reporting.)
Information and Resource Services
Follow-up Where Requested
Thursday's Child helps nearly 25,000 children each year.
To date, we have helped nearly half a million children.