The FBI compiled data that shows that of the nearly 25,000 runaways reported to NCMEC in 2017, one in seven were likely victims of child sex trafficking. Of those children, 88 percent were in the care of social services when they went missing. In 2017 alone, NCMEC’s Cyber Tip line, a national mechanism for the public and electronic service providers to report instances of suspected child sexual exploitation, received over 10 million reports.
Matt Agorist from the Freedom Thought Project explored further and wrote a chilling Report that shows that 88% of missing sex trafficked children come from US foster care system (Matt Agorist 2018) and that other governmental organizations have corroborated this horrifying trend. In a 2013 FBI 70-city nationwide raid, 60 percent of the victims came from foster care or group homes. In 2014, New York authorities estimated that 85 percent of sex trafficking victims were previously in the child welfare system. In 2012, Connecticut police rescued 88 children from sex trafficking; 86 were from the child welfare system.
Whitney Manning, a grandmother in Virginia that advocates for foster children and raises awareness to mental health issues recently visited Washington D.C. where she met the “Grandmother of all advocacy for foster children”, Kathlee Arthur and many other advocates and family members that came together to ask for child welfare reform and to defund ASFA which is the 1997 adoption and safe families act. Kathlee Arthur explains how ASFA targets poor children and does not offer services to other children that may need them. She goes onto explain how this has created the fostercare to prison pipeline.
I also did some further research on how states could be supplying 88% of sex trafficked minors and found that the United States Department of State even reported that the United States foster care system is a problem. The 2019 Trafficking In Persons Report from the Department of States (TIP) says,
“In the United States, traffickers prey upon children in the foster care system. Recent reports have consistently indicated that a large number of victims of child sex trafficking were at one time in the foster care system.”
The 2021 TIP Report states that individuals in the United States vulnerable to human trafficking include: children in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems, including foster care; runaway and homeless youth; unaccompanied children; individuals seeking asylum; American Indians and Alaska Natives, particularly women and girls; individuals with substance use issues; migrant laborers, including undocumented workers and participants in visa programs for temporary workers; foreign national domestic workers in diplomatic households; persons with limited English proficiency; persons with disabilities; LGBTQI+ persons; and victims of intimate partner violence or domestic violence and that some U.S. citizens engage in extraterritorial child sexual exploitation and abuse in foreign countries.
Foster and adopted children are dear to my heart and they are our most vulnerable citizens. Once children enter the foster care system and other juvenile facilities, their contact with their own family and the people they know is severed through court processes. Often times foster and adopted children are moved out of state where they are not familiar with their surroundings and can easily get lost and fall into the hands of sex traffickers if they run away, which they often do. One solution that could be considered legislatively is localizing foster care in a way that children never have to lose all of their family and friends and so that they remain in places that are familiar to them where they can get to someone that they trust and will confide in when things go wrong. Too often children that are severed from their families feel unwanted and lost in this world. We can do something to change that.