Human Trafficking- Is Closer Than You Think
For many people, the words “human trafficking” immediately conjure up images of the film “Taken” in which Liam Neason desperately roams the streets of Paris, fighting international terrorists who have kidnapped his daughter and are auctioning her off to the highest bidder for the most evil of intentions. There is indeed a great degree of foreign involvement in human trafficking. Victims are lured to the U.S. with false promises of well-paying jobs only to find themselves being forced into prostitution, factory work or other types of forced labor. However, in many cases, human trafficking is home grown and has a considerably lesser degree of intrigue but is no less fraught with seediness and despair.
Children in foster care are often targets for individuals looking to exploit human capital for the sex trade. These kids from broken or abusive homes are easily lured with the promise of money, nice things and perhaps the most deceptive and underhanded of all, the promise of someone who will love and protect them. Children desperate for family and acceptance end up trapped in a situation worse than the one they came from and with very little hope of escape. And the younger they are, the easier they are to hook. Sadly, the average age of entry into the sex trade is 12 years old.
In 2017, Florida had the third highest number of reported cases of human trafficking in the U.S. and most of these were found right here in Miami. Currently, there are almost 2600 children in foster care in Miami-Dade County, many of them vulnerable to these predators who are busy lurking in the shadows in search of them. They hang around schools and playgrounds and troll social media for victims. That is why it is so important for children to know that someone is there for them, like a Guardian ad Litem. In 2017, Voices For Children provided resources for specialized advocacy to help these youths find that someone who will look out for them and let them know that they are not alone.
On National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, please help us continue our work in providing care, support, and life-changing services to this and other vulnerable individuals right here in our community by donating to Voices For Children Foundation.