Every day in California, 70 children enter the foster care system for the first, second or third time depending on each specific case. Most children enter the system as victims of physical/sexual abuse, neglect, the lack of essential needs, or abandonment. These are also well-known indicators of vulnerability for a potential sex trafficking victim.
A recent House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) hearing on Feb. 26, titled, “The State of Efforts to Stop Human Trafficking” had a detective testify that 67% of sex trafficked victims were in foster care or in the care of social services. The State of Human Trafficking Report released in 2012 found that 72% of the sex trafficked victims reported were born in the US.
Ending this cycle of crisis isn’t an easy fix but a long term solution that requires the efforts of everyone in the community—not just adoptive parents, emergency placement homes, and respite care homes. Teachers, mentors, role models, friends: become the stability and support that our children need and crave. Intervene on their behalf before the traumatized child becomes the 14% statistic that exits the system of “care” and enters the prison system, as stated in a 2011 Senate Office of Research CA report. We know who and where targeted victims of sex trafficking are. The resources are already in place to combat human trafficking. We cannot blame social services for the ills of our children, if we ourselves are not lining up to care for them.