Introducing Child Sex Trafficking 101
Children vulnerable to becoming trafficking victims have a history of sexual abuse, a void in their lives (love, safety, and basic needs), and are runaways. Of the nearly 25,000 runaways reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in 2017, one in seven were known victims of child sex trafficking (other agencies report that a likely estimate is one in three, but there are many challenges to assessment, reporting, recovery, and prosecution). Of those, 75% were in the care of the state when they went missing/ran away. Girls aged 12-15 and LGBTQ children are at the highest risk.
According to Humantraffickingresearch.org, Texas has grown into a hub of human trafficking due to its location, immigrant community and large economy. Texas is 3rd in the nation for the highest rates of this type of crime against children (California is number 1 and New York number 2). In the media, human trafficking in Texas is portrayed as Mexican forced laborers trafficked through the borders, but the Freedom Place paints a much different picture. Houston is home to almost 6,000 runaway minors and an estimated one in three runaways are lured into sex trafficking within 48 hours of running away. Almost 30 percent of calls to report domestic trafficking at the National Human Trafficking Hotline originate in Texas. The largest population of youths at risk of being trafficked in Texas is centered in and around Houston.
As a CASA agency located just north of Houston, many of our vulnerable children are at risk of becoming trafficking victims, especially those being placed in RTCs and foster homes in Harris county. United Against Human Trafficking in Houston reports that exploiters watch and wait for children to run away from known psychiatric hospitals, RTCs, group homes, and foster homes.
In an effort to better serve this vulnerable population, we are initiating “Child Sex Trafficking 101” training to CASA Child Advocates of Montgomery County volunteers. This is a proactive program designed to increase knowledge and awareness of the unique needs of the children and teens most at risk of being exploited. Advocates will learn about the problem, prevention resources, investigations/reporting, post recovery challenges, and local resources. Our goal is to end child sex trafficking in our community.
The key to accomplishing this goal rests in the education and support of our Advocates, who represent the best interest of these children in care and act as their voice in court.
The inaugural Child Sex Trafficking 101 training will be on Thursday, August 23rd from 9-11am at the CASA training room. Space is limited – sign up here: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/60b044fabab22a0f94-child.
Guardian Ad Litem Case Supervisor