What UNC is doing
for North Carolina - and beyond
Taking It to the Streets
for the first
time in a long
Little girls don't dream ofgrowing up to be pros- titutes - they imagine lives as ballerinas, doc- tors, athletes and even firefighters.Yet many
women have found themselves in a career on the
streets. Liz Arnold, a visiting assistant professor in
UNC's School of Social Work, is working to help
those women reconnect with their original drean1s.
Arnold and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Detec-
tive Ron Simmons have created the ADE Project -
Alternatives to Drugs via Empowerment. The project is
designed to help change the lives of women involved in
the high-risk lifestyles of prostitution and drug abuse.
Arnold read about efforts by the Charlotte-Meck-
lenburg police to link female prostitutes with local
human service agencies and treatment providers. The
department had investigated the deaths offive women
in Charlotte during 1998 - all five were engaged in
prostitution, drug abuse or both. By working collabora-
tively with prostitutes, the police were able to solve
some of the crimes while also helping the women find
Arnold previously had conducted research with
prostitutes in Pinellas County, Fla. She contacted the
Charlotte-Mecklenburg police, and the ADE Project
"There are very few outreach programs for WOluen
in prostitution,"Arnold said. "The women who work
the streets aren't looking for help. We search for these
women to get them off the streets. It's a very active and
intensive outreach 11"lOdel ofintervention."
The project, which began recruiting participants in
September, has three objectives: conduct street and jail
outreach in Charlotte, with a focus on women who are
HIV positive; link these women with existing commu-
nity services, such as health care and substance abuse
treatment; and provide ongoing support for the
women to help them recover.
"We're focusing on building therapeutic relation-
ships with these women," Arnold said."If they hit a
crisis, we want them to feel like they can call us for
help. That's where we've been really successful."
Working in the Charlotte conununity makes sense
for the School of Social Work, said Mary Beth Her-
nandez, assistant dean for external affairs.
"We have a very strong board of advisers in Char-
lotte, and we have a part-tin1e program there, so we're
already involved," Hernandez said. "And the Charlotte
community wants it to last. The project is meeting a
need dut has been unmet before now."
The number of arrests for prostitution in North
Carolina rose £r011" 1 856 in 1995 to 1,185 in 2000. In
1999, about 400 known women were working the
streets of Charlotte; that does not include male and
child prostitutes. Most of the women, according to
Sinunons, were physically and mentally abused as chil-
ill'en, turning to prostitution as a way to survive. More
From left, Liz Arnold, Gail Baldwin and advisory board member Kathryn Heath. The program helped Baldwin out of prostitu-
tion, and she now is a community college student and a manager for a retail business.
May /Jun. e 2002