It feels like the kind of problem that an individual can’t make much impact on. Around the world and in the U.S. children are being forced into prostitution and trafficked for sex. But knowing that the problem exists and not turning a blind eye is where we need to start fighting child sex trafficking.
There are no definitive statistics on how many children, primarily girls, are forced into prostitution in the U.S., but in 2013 the FBI rescued more than 100 children and arrested 150 adults for coercing or enslaving these children for the purpose of prostitution in a single operation. Since 2003, FBI officials note that they’ve rescued more than 2,700 children in operations in 76 U.S. cities. Many of these children had previously been sexually abused by family members and by caretakers in the foster care system and had run away from home hoping to escape their abuse.
One factor that makes fighting child sex trafficking more difficult is that fact that many of these children are trafficked on Internet sites, so most people aren’t aware of the extent of the problem or even the existence of the victims.
Experts explain that it’s important not to think of this as a prostitution issue, but rather as an issue of child sexual abuse. Just like victims of incest or other forms of sexual abuse, these young girls and boys are not old enough to consent to any sexual activity. Rather than focusing law enforcement efforts on arresting child prostitutes, we should work to protect these children from the abuse and neglect that makes them vulnerable to sex traffickers and to create resources that can help victims get the shelter, support, and therapy they need to begin rebuilding their lives.
How you can help
There are a growing number of organizations dedicated to stopping child sex trafficking and helping victims. You can be part of the solution by donating to these organizations, volunteering your time, spreading information about the problem, writing to your government representatives to encourage them to support programs that target sex traffickers, and alerting the authorities if you believe you’ve encountered a child who is being trafficked.
Here are some organizations to consider:
The Living Water Center
Not For Sale
Join RAACE by becoming a RAACE Fan on Facebook and/or subscribing to our monthly newsletter and inviting those within your child's circle of trust to join in the fight against and prevention of child sexual abuse! Visit RAACE.org today or call 1.800.755.KIDS.