The Child Welfare System makes children vulnerable to sex traffickers.

Photograph: Alamy, from the article, Children running away from care need a safety net by Enver Solomon

The Child Welfare System makes children vulnerable to sex traffickers.

It is estimated that over 40 million US adults are survivors of sexual child abuse. Homeless children, foster children, refugees, and LGBTQ youth are the most likely victims of childhood sexual assault. It is estimated that 100,000 children are sexually exploited in the United States each year. It is clear that many of the minors who are trafficked interact with the child welfare system at some point in their lives. Children that are sexually assaulted in foster care never fully heal from their wounds and will always carry the scars of the abuse. Unfortunately, many of them have lost contact with family and do not have support systems in place to help them recover. Child welfare workers can identify problems with the foster care system and advocate for much needed changes that will prevent future abuse.

The national attention towards the issue of human trafficking has created opportunities to raise awareness, educate, and advocate for better childhood outcomes. Federal legislators have taken an increased interest in confronting the sex trafficking of children now that more and more people are becoming aware of how prevalent that problem is.

It is also clear that between 75% to as many as 98% of the children taken into state custody were never abused. Study after study shows that children with biological families are the least likely to be abused.

Predators prey on children from broken homes, group homes, foster care, and runaways. The U.S. Department of State reports that foster care is a consistent problem. Live-in parents and stepparents are 20 times more likely to abuse a child than a biological parent.

City reports show that between 60% to as many as 90% of the children rescued in sex trafficking stings were in foster care before they were trafficked. Often, when they are rescued, they are returned to state custody where they will likely run away again.

Studies show that children in foster homes are 10 times more likely to be sexually abused than children that live with biological parents. Children that live in group homes are 28 times more likely to be abused.

Minding Hearts is building advocacy and peer support groups in each state.  The groups are created to raise awareness, educate, and advocate for those that might not otherwise be heard. We are here for encouragement, education, and support. We are here to support families and develop resources that maintain family integrity. We look forward to your support. If you would rather become active by donating, then visit the donation page.

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