31 Jan At Risk
Children are being sex trafficked in our community. Let that sink in.
Sex trafficking is defined as the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of an individual who under force, fraud, or coercion is induced to perform a commercial sex act.
When sex with a minor is traded for drugs, that is sex trafficking. Court Appointed Special Advocates sometimes encounter children who have entered the foster care system for this reason. Children who have been betrayed by parents or caregivers, and sexually abused by friends or strangers and sometimes children who have been plied with drugs for this purpose. We encounter children who don’t feel they are even victims. This isn’t the story of every child who enters foster care, but it does happen here in our community.
Not only do children sometimes enter the foster care system as victims of sex trafficking but according to the National Foster Youth Institute, 60% of all child sex trafficking victims have histories in the child welfare system. Children currently or previously in foster care are more vulnerable to the risk of being human trafficked because they are preyed on by traffickers. Children who feel hopeless or are depressed are preyed on. Children with traumatic histories are preyed on. Children aging out of foster care and runaways are preyed on. Homeless youth especially LGBTQ youth are preyed on.
The children we work with are in foster care, experiencing the traumatic event of being removed from their home, often have been previously traumatized, often are depressed. They are a trafficker’s dream. By providing a caring adult who keeps up with all aspects of their life, a Court Appointed Special Advocate reduces the risk for the child of being sex trafficked. A CASA can also advocate to ensure the child is placed in a stable foster family, work in conjunction with the foster family to make sure the entire family is supported, and advocate for any needed and appropriate mental health care for the child.
January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. As the month closes out, we want to remind you of things you can do to prevent trafficking. First you must acknowledge that trafficking can occur in your community.
Next, you can educate yourself. There are great resources available on the U. S. Department of State’s website to Identify and Assist a Trafficking Victim. Raise awareness by using your influence to shine a light on trafficking. And report any suspected trafficking to local authorities or to the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.