The Explosion of Human Trafficking in America.

Child Sex Trafficking continues to place children in America in danger, in 2018.

In Wisconsin, three adults arrested on suspicion child sex trafficking, as two girls, ages 16 and 17, are rescued from the adults. In New Jersey, two men are arrested for running a prostitution ring which used underage victims as young as 12 years old, turning children into sex slaves.

A Texas father of seven children sits in jail on a $1 million bond for purchasing and/or selling a child for reasons of sex. Two are arrested in North Carolina, after police rescue a minor, trafficked for sex.

Just late last year, the FBI teamed with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and rescued 84 children, and arrested 120 individuals, across the nation in Operation Cross Country XI. Shockingly, this story is all too familiar in America.

Miriam Rocah, a former federal prosecutor, suggests that there has been an explosion in the sexual exploitation of children.

“What happened was that the Internet made online child pornography much more relevant, and the ability of child predators to meet and exploit children. That’s how you get what I would call really an explosion.” To be sure, much of this online explosion comes from the website Backpage.com. Indeed, a 2017 Senate report reported that 73 percent of child-trafficking calls from the public involved Backpage.com.

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. 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.

Tragically, there are thousands of children today, in the United States alone, who are being beaten and are trafficked. For thousands of children in America, the day to day, and moment to moment horrors continue. For thousands, this modern day American slavery continues to exist, all around us.

Dr. John DeGarmo is an international expert on foster care. He has been a foster parent for 15 years, now, and he and his wife have had over 50 children come through their home. He is a consultant to foster care agencies, child welfare organizations, and legal firms, as well as a speaker and trainer on many topics about the foster care system. He is the author of several foster care books, including Faith and Foster Care, and writes for several publications. He can be contacted at drjohndegarmo@gmail.com, through his Facebook page, Dr. John DeGarmo, or at The Foster Care Institute.