This is a guest post from Covenant House
The FBI’s largest action to date focusing on the rescue of sexually exploited children resulted in the arrests of 159 pimps this summer from all over the country who were involved in the commercial exploitation of children.
The FBI canvassed streets, motels, casinos and social media platforms over a three-day period to rescue over 100 teenagers, most of them vulnerable young girls preyed upon by pimps, who enticed them with offers of food, money, safety and love.
“This successful effort by the FBI proves once again that child sex trafficking is much more prevalent in our country than most people would like to believe,” said Covenant House president Kevin Ryan. “Across the country at our Covenant House shelters for homeless kids, there is an all too common story that leads a young person to being forced into sex slavery — a teenager who is homeless or estranged from his or her family is picked up at a train station or on the streets and then is offered some form of security or safety, which eventually ends up being in return for forced sex labor. This FBI sweep shows that this is happening every day, in every city across the country, at an alarming rate.”
Covenant House applauds the efforts of the FBI, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and all our partners in the fight to stop the buying and selling of children.
“We need to fight this war against traffickers on all fronts,” said Ryan. “We need to train more police and social workers on the frontlines to identify human trafficking. We need many more states to enact Safe Harbor Laws ensuring that prostituted minors are not arrested, and instead are sheltered and helped to escape the bonds of sex slavery. And more states need to provide resources to help trafficking victims escape the circumstances that led to their enslavement.”
The needs of trafficked youths can be overwhelming. They often have few family ties and have fallen years behind in school. They need shelter, medical care and counseling. Given how difficult it is to escape prostitution, with many victims fearing for their lives if they try to escape, it is crucial that states and the federal government take up the cause of trafficking victims with more determination and focus, so these children and teenagers can have the bright, safe futures they deserve.
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