Child Sex Trafficking and the Child Welfare System

Family: The Original Child Welfare System

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, and talk about it. It is estimated that over 40 million US adults living now are survivors of sexual child abuse.

The national attention towards the issue of human trafficking has created opportunities to raise awareness, educate, and advocate for better childhood outcomes.

Homeless children, foster care system, 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 is that many of the minors who are trafficked interact with the child welfare system at some point in their lives. Child welfare workers are in the perfect seat to identify problems with the foster care system and advocate for much needed changes that will prevent future abuse. Children that are sexually assaulted in foster care and have no ties to family never fully heal from their wounds and will always carry the scars of the abuse.

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 family 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 step parents 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.