Foster Care’s Continuing Human Trafficking Problem

As you know, your foster child has one true wish and one real desire, more than possibly anything else, and that is to be loved. As foster parents, we can protect the child from harm, provide a safe and secure home, offer nutritious meals, and open up a doorway of opportunities for foster children, granting them new and exciting experiences that they may never have dreamed of. Yet, with all of this, with all of the wonderful opportunities and safe environments, foster children really crave love the most. They want to be loved, and they need to be loved. After all, every child deserves to be loved. Not only do children deserve love, they need it in order to grow in a healthy fashion.

For a foster child who may have been abused, beaten, or neglected, this type of unconditional love is most important, yet probably unknown. Your love as a foster parent is quite essential to the child’s health, well being, and future. Without this type of love, a love that does not judge and is forgiving, a foster child will not form necessary and healthy attachment with others, resulting in a number of attachment disorders. Foster children who suffer from these disorders will have great difficulty connecting with others, as well as managing their own emotions, not only during their childhood and time in foster care, but many times throughout the remainder of their lives. Emotional difficulties such as a of lack of self worth, trust, and the need to be in control often result in the lack of unconditional and healthy parental love. As anyone who has worked with foster children will tell you, most foster children face an enormous amount of emotional issues, many times stemming from the lack of healthy love.

A dark little secret in America today is that of human sex trafficking. Many in society either are not aware of it, or refuse to acknowledge its existence in our nation, and around the world, today. It is emerging more each year as an area of grave concern for law enforcement and legal professionals, as well as those who work with social services, particularly those who work with foster children. Shockingly, between 300,000-400,000 children are exploited commercially in our nation for purposes of sex each year, many of these children being shipped, or trafficked, across international borders each year. For these thousands of children, a life of horror and danger is forced upon them as they serve as prostitutes for local and global criminal organizations. Thousands of other children are sold into slavery by those who profess to love them the most; their family members. How large is the problem? Disturbingly, human trafficking generates more than 32 billion a year, which is second only to drug trafficking. Roughly 2 million children are exploited in this manner across the globe.

Children who fall victim to the sexual exploitation of human trafficking tend to come from several different backgrounds. They may be runaways, like Alexandra; victims of prior sexual abuse; homeless; children looking to belong and hoping to find acceptance; or children who have been victimized in other fashions and are seeking love and a sense of belonging. Indeed, human traffickers may target large facilities, such as large foster care group homes, where they are able to locate a greater number of children who are defenseless, vulnerable, and hurting, thus easier targets to victimize, lure, and exploit.

The average age of an American girl entering into sex trafficking is 13 years of age. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn put it wisely when he 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.

I have another question for you. Do you know when the highest rate of child sex trafficking occurs in the United States each year? The answer may surprise you, as the event is looked upon as almost a national holiday of sorts. The Super Bowl, where friends and families come together each year for a party. Yet, this icon of American sporting events has been called the "single largest human trafficking incident in the United States" by Texas Attorney General Gregg Abbot and the "largest human-trafficking venue on the planet" by humanitarian Cindy McCain, wife of Arizona Senator and former presidential candidate John McCain. Indeed, during the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl, there is as much as a 300% increase in internet ads regarding sex trafficking. In 2014, 45 pimps were arrested, and 16 children between the ages of 13-17 were rescued by police from the clutches of those who were exploiting and enslaving these children for sexual purposes to those who were attending the Super Bowl.