Sex Trafficking is a large and very real issue in our country and in our region. The safety of our children in Foster Care is also a continuing concern. The following article by Elizabeth Saab addresses both issues as they intersect in the real lives of already at risk children and youth; Child Sex Trafficking. In Saab’s coverage of this issue there is a focus on the shift in attitude toward child/youth prostitutes. That shift where we acknowledge that these children/youth are not criminals but are victims is long overdue. We are fortunate that this issue has become a part of the ongoing conversations in our Nation, especially in Texas. You will find the link to Saab’s original article, televised story, and infographics at the end of this post. Please read the following article, go view Saab’s news story, then investigate the links I have provided for a better understanding of this ongoing and growing concern for our children. JDP
Foster care children at risk for sex trafficking predators By: Elizabeth Saab Jan 20 2016
January is Human Trafficking and Awareness and Prevention Month across the country. And in Austin on Wednesday, state and local agencies joined forces to learn how to better identify the signs. The Center for Missing and Exploited Children says the number of kids reported to them as missing in 2015 were also likely to be sex trafficking victims. And out of those victims, 74% were in foster care.
“We now look at them not as child prostitutes but as victims,” says Dr. Vivian Dorsett. She is the founder of Foster Caring Action Network. She says many of the victims have aged out of foster care, and are now prime targets for sex traffickers. “A lot of them have been abused while in care or prior to care and they tend to fall into those steps.” Dorsett spent sixteen years in foster care. She is one of several experts who have come to the Austin Children’s Shelter to help child workers learn how to spot the signs.
“Many victims don’t consider themselves victims, they don’t recognize that they are victims and that’s part of why we are here today. We want to raise awareness,” says Andrea Sparks. She is the Executive Director of the Texas Regional Office of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. “The reality is,” Sparks says, “sex trafficking is a problem because people are making money trafficking children.” And she says there is an alarming trend growing with predators going after at-risk teens online. “What we are really trying to do in Texas, with our Texas regional office is prevent this and get our kids, their parents, our care givers for kids in care, our teachers, everyone aware that we need to to be monitoring the internet and what kids are doing on apps.”
It’s that awareness everyone hopes will protect the most vulnerable.
“You can change all the laws you want,” says Dorsett, “It’s just a law so there needs to be one on one mentoring and advocacy and training to workers that are actually in the grind with these young adults when they are going through foster care.”
If you think you might be a victim of exploitation or you know someone who is, call 911 or The National Center For Missing and Exploited Children’S 24-hour hotline, 1-800-The-Lost, or online at cybertipline.com…
The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children has data, information, resources on Child Sexual Exploitation. “Child sexual exploitation is a significant problem requiring a multifaceted response. The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children® works with federal, state and local law enforcement in their efforts to investigate and prosecute these cases and identify and rescue child victims.” http://www.missingkids.com/Exploitation
Children at Risk A Texas nonprofit organization will soon launch the first of two comprehensive databases that it hopes will aid in the fight against child sex trafficking. One is for those working in the industry. The second is for Texas citizens who want more information on the commercial sex trade and how to help organizations devoted to battling it. http://www.govtech.com/Child-Sexhttp://www.govtech.com/Child-Sex-Trafficking-Data-Pooled-in-Texas.html
The United States Department of Justice: Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS). “CEOS´s mission has been to protect the welfare of America´s children and communities by enforcing federal criminal statutes relating to the exploitation of children and obscenity.” They have a section titled Citizen’s Guide To U.S. Federal Child Exploitation And Obscenity Laws. http://www.justice.gov/criminal-ceos