Wolves can come in all shapes and sizes. Do I have your attention now?
So warns Lady J, the animated version of Academy Award-nominee Jessica Chastain, as she walks “Little Reds” through the dangers of a very scary problem: Child sex trafficking.
Lady J is the narrator of I AM LITTLE RED, the 10-minute animated short aimed at children most at-risk for sex trafficking with the goal of prevention and awareness. The short is directed and co-written by filmmaker and friend of First Book Mary Mazzio. We talked to Mary about I AM LITTLE RED, for which she and her team were recently awarded the Ricky Martin Foundation’s Tau Humanitarian Award. The Ricky Martin Foundation has partnered with Mary to promote I AM LITTLE RED to a global audience, with initial efforts currently underway in Puerto Rico.
Thanks to Mary Mazzio and 50 Eggs Films, limited copies of I AM LITTLE RED and accompanying teaching materials are currently available for free on the First Book Marketplace.
First Book: I AM LITTLE RED addresses a difficult, but very important, topic. Tell us why you chose to make the film.
Mary Mazzio: I AM LITTLE RED is the brain-child of Linda Cabot, a key funder of “I AM JANE DOE” (Mazzio’s documentary on the same issue). Linda thought the documentary film would be an ideal vehicle to create awareness and dialogue about online child-sex trafficking. However, Linda was concerned that the film would not reach those who truly were in need. The children themselves. Particularly girls. “We really need to think about prevention as an overall goal of this project,” Linda said. “How about an animated short?” Linda’s foresight catalyzed a creative dream team, which includes Academy Award-nominee Jessica Chastain, Alec Sokolow (Academy Award-nominee for “Toy Story”), Gabriel Osorio and Pato Escala, the creative dynamo from Punkrobot (and winners of the 2016 Academy Award for Best Animated Short), and, most importantly, 10 survivors of sex trafficking aged 14-21 from My Life My Choice who co-wrote the script for “I AM LITTLE RED”.
FB: Why did you decide this was an important resource for educators working with young people?
MM: There are very few visual tools in the prevention tool kit for educating children about the key tactics that traffickers will use. By using animation, we are able to introduce the topic in a non-threatening way. The young people (survivors) involved in this project urged us to be as authentic as possible, and because of their involvement, the materials are so compelling and powerful.
FB: Why did you choose to do a teaching guide? Why was that an important component?
MM: Our partners at My Life My Choice drafted a teaching guide, as LITTLE RED is primarily for educators, after school program directors/staff, and other adults working with at-risk children. The teaching guide is a step-by-step guide in terms of how to introduce the topic, questions to ask, and how to respond in the event a child does self-identify.
It was a crucial to include a protocol for supporting children who may come forward and self-identify as victims. We had law enforcement using LITTLE RED in a high school (as part of bystander training for older children to better protect younger children) and several of this high school students self-identified.
FB: What have you heard from educators who have used it, or from young people who have experienced the training?
MM: The feedback has been extraordinary. In fact, LITTLE RED is being used comprehensively throughout the state of New York because of the feedback.
See what members of the First Book Network are saying about I AM LITTLE RED:
- Used “I Am Little Red” with a girls’ mentoring group. They were totally engaged with the content and begged to see it twice. It sparked rich conversations about avoiding sexual predators and the guide is great enrichment. We used their responses to mount a bulletin board for the school. You should have all your students view I Am Little Red! – Kareen F.
- This video should be seen by all age groups, including college level students and parents. It tells the story in ways that all could understand. For elementary school students, I would speak on the issue at hand first (incorporate it in your lesson plan) and then show the video. Afterwards, allow the students to speak on it (share their views as to whether they know someone who might have gone through this type of incident, or do they agree or disagree with the video). – Yvonne S.
- This short video is very well done and will not cause children to become scared unless they have already experienced or are involved with the types of “wolves” (people) used as an example. It is an easy way to talk to children about the way grooming occurs and tactics used. – Julia H.
- I truly suggest you watch this film. Children are exposed to so many dangers these days and this film helps raise awareness. – Claudia M.
Find Mary Mazzio, I AM LITTLE RED, and I AM JANE DOE on Facebook.