from Humans Are Free:
Dolce, who speaks from experience from representing children abused in foster care, writes:
Here’s the ugly truth: most Americans who are victims of sex trafficking come from our nation’s own foster care system. It’s a deeply broken system that leaves thousands vulnerable to pimps as children and grooms them for the illegal sex trade as young adults.
[Our readers] are probably familiar with the systemic failures of America’s foster care system, and how it trafficks children. We have investigated and reported on this huge problem for years now.
Therefore, it is refreshing to see this horrible injustice in our foster care system exposed in a corporate-sponsored “mainstream” media source.
The studies and statistics that Dolce references are quite sobering:
The frequency of child sex abuse is a true epidemic. Since at least 2000, the U.S. Department of Justice has reported that some 67 percent of all sexual assaults are committed against victims under 18 years old.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports confirmed child sexual abuse cases number approximately 58,000 per year in recent years.
Unreported child sexual assaults are estimated at 80 percent and supported by multiple studies and experts.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) found that “of the more than 18,500 endangered runaways reported to NCMEC in 2016, one in six were likely victims of child sex trafficking. Of those, 86 percent were in the care of social services when they went missing.
Child Sex Trafficking in Foster Care is Known – But Nothing is Being Done About it
While the problem of child sex trafficking through the nation’s foster care system is not commonly known in the general public, it is known to our nation’s leaders.
The essential failure is how we care for these children.
As NCMEC’s CEO told Congress in 2013, “Children in foster care are easy targets for pimps … [they] are the most susceptible to the manipulation and false promises that traffickers use to secure their trust and dependency. These children have fractured safety nets and few alternatives.”
Child welfare systems can, but often do not, prevent that reality for children. Pimps rely on that. (emphasis added)
Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) introduced legislation in 2017 to amend an antiquated 1996 law that was ostensibly enacted to protect freedom of expression on the Internet, but, as Sen. Portman’s bill describes, allowed website operators (most prominently, Backpage) to facilitate the sale of sex with victims of sex trafficking. In many of these cases, the victims are children.
We covered the work of Senator Portman here at Health Impact News back in 2016, when he published a report on the results of a six-month investigation looking at 125,000 unaccompanied minors who had crossed the U.S. borders into the United States since 2011, reportedly fleeing violence and unrest in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.
His report documents how most of these children ended up being trafficked and severely abused.
But what is actually being done to help stop this horrific abuse happening right here in the United States?
Sen. Portman’s legislation is landmark and a key step in helping sex trade victims, but the reality is that predators will find other venues.
Dolce also makes it clear that the system responsible for allowing this to happen is the nation’s foster care system.
Children are learning all the time, and in abusive foster or group homes they learn that their worth as humans is not intrinsic. Their worth is what the abusive caregiver gets from them, whether simply a paycheck from the state or their bodies for sex, as happened to some of my clients.
This conditions them to be subservient to pimps—giving all they have in exchange for essential needs, like food and shelter.
As one of my clients put it, after extensive physical and sexual abuse in state care, the day she turned 18 and left the system with no community support, job or money, she saw herself in one way: “There was a gold mine between my legs.”
The rates of runaways from state care remains essentially unchanged since 2003, so the volume of potential trafficking victims has not changed.
To protect our nation’s most vulnerable children, we need the federal government to compel states that accept hundreds of millions of dollars for child welfare systems to answer, in every case that a child goes missing, why it happened and why it continues to happen.
The reason that this horrible child sex trafficking system does not stop is because those running the foster care system are corrupt. Even if one is not actually participating in child sex trafficking within the foster care system, those who know about it are not reporting it.
From cases of child abuse victims I have represented, I can name dozens of adults who knew of abuse in institutional care, but failed to report it.
What about law enforcement? Michael Dolce is an attorney who represents these abused young people, so surely he is able to report this and law enforcement are able to arrest the perpetrators so they can get their day in court, correct?