84 Children Rescued From Human Trafficking. The Truth That Continues To Shock America.
The news of the FBI teaming with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children rescuing 84 children, as well as with the arrest of 120 individuals, across the nation in Operation Cross Country XI is sure to be alarming for many. What may be even more disturbing is that one of the victims was only 3 months old.
Three months old.
A 3 month old baby and her 5 year old sister were rescued from Denver Colorado, where both siblings were being sold to an undercover officer for $600.00.
Shockingly, this story is all too familiar in America. 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. 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.
The numbers are startling. The facts are hard to believe. Yet, child sex trafficking is big business, both in the United States, and on a global level. Children are in danger; children who may even live near you.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, through his Facebook page, Dr. John DeGarmo, or at The Foster Care Institute.