Every Two Minutes, a Child is being Prepared for Sexual Exploitation and Human Trafficking.
Every two minutes, a child is being prepared for sexual exploitation, according to a report from Unicef.
Perhaps more disturbing, according to Shared Hope International, is that child victims might be raped, or used for sex for money, by 6,000 men over the course of a five-night-per-week schedule.
It is not something that we as a society want to recognize, want to acknowledge, and to fight. It is horrifying and depressing. It makes us feel uncomfortable. Yet, child sex trafficking is all around us. It is in our cities, and even in our neighborhoods. And it is happening to our children, with the average age of a child being trafficked at only 12 years old. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn put it wisely when she said, “They’re not even old enough to go to a prom, not even old enough to get a driver’s license and yet we still are seeing more and more of it on the Internet.” The number of children being contacted by sexual predators online is disturbing and astounding at the same time. Approximately one out of every seven children is sexually contacted, or solicited, by a predator while online. Furthermore,many of these children are seriously pursued online by these predators, singling out these children in an attempt to lure them in.
Shockingly, this story is all too familiar in America. According to Polaris, a nonprofit working to combat modern-day slavery and human trafficking, there has been a 13 percent jump in identified cases from 2016 to 2017.
In the first few days of February of 2017 alone, several arrests of child sex traffickers were reported. In California, over 470 people were arrested over a three day period as the state’s “Operation Reclaim and Rebuild rescued dozens of children, many of them taken from the foster care system in some way. 22 more were arrested in Detroit, Michigan, this time at North American International Auto Show, as police rescued two more young children, under the age of 16. In Dallas, Texas, during the same month, a 15 year old girl was rescued from a child sex trafficker. Another 16 year old girl, also from Texas, was also a victim of child sex trafficking. Police arrested an individual in Tulsa, Oklahoma, this time rescuing three minors from child sex trafficking.
Child sex trafficking is an ugly secret that many in America refuse to accept, or refuse to acknowledge. It is disturbing, it is horrific, and it is something that most pretend is not happening in our nation. “Child sex trafficking is happening in every community across America, and at the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, we’re working to combat this problem every day,”according to John Clark, the center’s CEO.
Yet, human trafficking is a large business. World wide, the International Labor Organization estimates that trafficking is now a $150 billion industry.Roughly $99 million of that is from commercial sex trade according to an ILO report, while the remaining $51 billion is from forced labor. Indeed, it has surpassed the illegal sale of arms and weapons, and is soon expected to eclipse the sale of illegal drugs. 2 million children are victims of child sex trafficking each year across the globe. The number is staggering, and hard to believe. Yet, the numbers are true, and society as a whole seems to look the other way.
The Urban Institute estimated that human trafficking is a $39.9 million business in Denver, Colorado, to $290 million in Atlanta, Georgia. Several reports suggest that 300,000 children in America are victims of child sex trafficking each year.
Most youth who fall victim to prostitution today come from environments where they have already been sexually abuse. To be sure, the majority of children in America who are exploited sexually have already endured a life of physical, sexual, or psychological abuse. Indeed, the contributor to a child entering into a life of child sex trafficking is a prior life of sexual abuse. Along with this, many of these children who have already been exposed to sexual abuse have problems with low self-esteem, and do not receive the educational opportunities they deserve. For some teens who have suffered abuse from the hands of family members, they may seek escape by running away from home. As a result, they are more likely to end up homeless, and may choose a life style of prostitution in order to “make ends meet,” financially, so to speak. These youth are more inclined to be placed into foster homes or group homes, and are also more likely to run away. Pimps also attract children by targeting them in group homes, promising them gifts, a sense of belonging, and a place where they will be loved, as well as encouraging them with presents and gifts, all while grooming them for a life of prostitution.
Many of these victims are children from the foster care system. In 2013, 60 percent of children who victims of child sex trafficking rescued from a FBI nationwide raid conducted over 70 cities were children from foster care or group homes. These children were found in hotel rooms, truck stops, and even homes.
It is time for us, as a society, to no longer ignore these sexual predators and child sex trafficking. It is time to recognize these dangers and rise up and put an end to it. It is time for you to stand up and fight for these children. If you do not, who will?
Dr. John DeGarmo is an international expert in parenting and foster care and is a TEDx Talk presenter. Dr. John is the founder and director of The Foster Care Institute. He has been a foster parent for 17 years, and he and his wife have had over 60 children come through their home. He is an international consultant to schools, legal firms, and foster care agencies, as well as an empowerment and transformational speaker and trainer for schools, child welfare, businesses, and non profit organizations. He is the author of several books, including The Little Book of Foster Care Wisdom, and writes for several publications. Dr. John has appeared on CNN HLN, Good Morning, America, and NBC, FOX, CBS, and PBS stations across the nation. He and his wife have received many awards, including the Good Morning America Ultimate Hero Award. He can be contacted at drjohndegarmo@gmail, through his Facebook page, Dr. John DeGarmo, or at The Foster Care Institute