GGC class project inspires students to fight against child sex exploitation
Inspired and concerned by what they learned through a class project, an ambitious group of Georgia Gwinnett College students have decided to donate their time to make a change in the community and the lives of others by joining the fight against commercial sexual exploitation of children.
The students were in a global business class taught by Spero Peppas, professor of marketing and international business. This class reviews business practices around the world – even unethical practices.
“Students must understand that ethics is culture bound, and each nation has its own laws,” Peppas said. “This awareness is important if one is to work in the international arena.”
Peppas assigned the class an open-ended project for which student teams were to choose a relevant topic for a formal, 30-minute presentation.
One group focused on child labor laws. Michelle St. Amant, Arnoldo Gonzelez, Marvin Marcellus and Jennifer Wormley worked meticulously to conduct research on this sensitive topic.
“We began looking at child labor laws in four different countries – China, India, Japan and the U.S.,” said Michelle St. Amant, a Lawrenceville native majoring in business administration. “We observed that each country had its own guidelines regarding child labor. We wanted to portray a struggle that had to do with children in our own country, and that’s when we can across the topic of commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC).”
The team contacted Drop Dead Gorgeous (DDG), an Atlanta-based organization devoted to informing the public about CSEC in Georgia as well as fighting to keep young women away from this lifestyle. DDG graciously provided the students with information about CSEC, which can be described as epidemic. The students were so moved by the information and the seriousness of the CSEC in the Atlanta area, that they committed to donating a combined 250 volunteer hours to help the cause.
Volunteer work was not part of the class assignment, so the students went above and beyond the scope of their course work.
“When this team chose to conduct a comparative study of child labor in different countries, they were aware of U.S. multinationals' involvement with child labor in their operations in other countries, but did not expect to find that child labor was a problem here in the U.S.,” Peppas said. “This is a wonderful example of how we at GGC are transforming lives – not only the lives of our students, but also the lives of those they touch.”
The students are volunteering their time as a team, and anticipate that most of their hours will be donated in support of DDG’s annual fashion show. Proceeds from the show benefit programs that provide counseling, group therapy, education, life skills, vocational training and family reunification, as well as spiritual care to help CSEC survivors heal and move forward. For more information about the CSEC epidemic and how you can help, visit www.ddgcharity.com.