Adventures with Heather

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Child Sex Trafficking in America (Shocking but True) READ

**I found this on the SHARED HOPE INTERNATIONAL Website it is shocking, but we can stop this! (And We should!)

Children being used by sex traffickers in America range in age from 9 to 19, with the average age being 11 years old. Efforts are being made to rescue them.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) estimates that well over 100,000 children and young women are sex trafficked every day. Many victims are not runaways or kids who have been abandoned but rather have been lured or coerced by clever predators.

Children as Sex Slaves in America
Many Americans often connect human trafficking as being a problem in other parts of the world, such as Thailand, Cambodia, Latin America and eastern Europe. However the reality is that there are thousands of young American girls who have been abducted or lured from their normal lives to become sex slaves. The predators that prey on them are very adept at reading children and knowing what their vulnerabilities are.

Rescuing Children From Prostitution
The FBI has been cracking down on child sex trafficking across the country. ABC7 San Francisco recently reported (10/27/08) that the Agency had led a sweep in that area which resulted in hundreds of arrests and the saving of dozens of children. Cooperating with Bay area police and the California Department of Justice, 642 people were arrested and 47 children were rescued from a life of prostitution.
The FBI sting covered street corners, outcall services, casinos and internet 27 cities across the country. This sting followed up one done in June 2008, "Operation Cross Country", that arrested 400 people and freed 21 children. What they found was that in the Bay Area of San Francisco, children---often runaways---were reaching out to pimps on social networking. The ways it works is that the predators become friends with the children, giving them a place to stay. The girls then become dependent upon them and are threatened into prostitution, working the streets.

Child Prostitution Crisis
Shared Hope International (SHI) has exposed a nationwide crisis in the U.S. Rueters reported their findings (9/15/08) in 10 diverse locations in the country, indicating the pervasiveness of American children trafficked domestically to meet a demand for commercial sex. According to the survey, which was done with a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), these children are often misidentified as juvenile delinquents and punished for the crime that is being committed against them.
According to SHI, children who are exploited need special protection because psychological bonding is so intense that a child is likely to run away from a non-secure placement, back to her captor, and continue to be victimized by the trafficker.

The nationwide study found that:
*Between 100,000 and 300,000 children in the U.S. are at risk for sex trafficking each year.
*As many as 2.8 million children live on the streets, a third of whom are lured into prostitution within 48 hours of leaving home.
*12 to 14 is the average age of entry into pornography and prostitution.

National Training on Sex Trafficking of Children
At a conference held in Dallas, Texas, on September 15-16, 2008, SHI released a ground breaking training video that employs surveillance footage, survivor interviews, and expert testimony to educate and inform on how to identify and respond to America's children who are commercially sexually exploited. It reveals how the children are recruited and tricked into prostitution and will assist first-responders in understanding who these victims are and how to identify and serve them.

Whether children are forced or lured into becoming prostitutes as a runaways, a casual encounter in person or on the internet, they are now considered victims rather than criminals. Through the work of the FBI and organizations such as SHI, and with increasingly sophisticated tracking methods, there is hope that the number of children coerced into being prostitution will be reduced and more predators caught and prosecuted.