The Link Between Child Abuse and Human Trafficking
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. According to an article in the San Antonio Express News, published on March 31, 2016- ‘Last year, the Children’s Shelter was unable to place more than 2,700 children in its foster-care program, due to a critical shortage of licensed foster-care homes in Bexar County. Almost 70 percent of the children, removed from their parents because of abuse or neglect, were 5 and younger.’
Safe Horizon reports that ‘Abused children are 25% more likely to experience teen pregnancy. In a study of young adults who suffered child abuse or neglect, 80% met criteria for at least one psychiatric disorder by age 21, including depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and suicide attempts. In a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services study of homeless youth, it found that 46% of those surveyed had escaped a home where they suffered physical abuse, and 17% left because of sexual abuse.’
These numbers are depressing, but even more shocking, is the realization that those children are often targeted by human traffickers due to their vulnerabilities left by prior abuses. The National Human Trafficking Resource Center’s studies show that ‘Runaway and homeless youth are vulnerable to trafficking. A study in Chicago found that 56 percent of prostituted women were initially runaway youth and similar numbers have been identified for male populations. Runaway and homeless youth lack a strong supportive network and runaway to unfamiliar environments and are particularly at risk of trafficking. Runaway youth are often approached by traffickers at transportation hubs, shelters or other public spaces. These traffickers pretend to be a boyfriend or significant other, using feigned affection and manipulation to elicit commercial sex or services from the victim.’Their findings also include that ‘Individuals who have experienced violence and trauma in the past are more vulnerable to future exploitation, as the psychological effect of trauma is often long-lasting and challenging to overcome. Victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, war and conflict or social discrimination may be targeted by traffickers, who recognize the vulnerabilities left by these prior abuses. Violence and abuse may be normalized or beliefs of shame or unworthiness lead to future susceptibility to human trafficking.’
Help stop this injustice from happening and become an advocate for a child today! If you are in the San Antonio areas see the attached links for more information.
National Human Trafficking Hotline: 1-888-373-7888
National Child Abuse Hotline 1-800-4-A-Child 1-800-422-4453
Those interested in becoming foster parents through the Children’s Shelter can call (210) 212-2500 or visit childrensshelter.org.