“He will rescue the poor when they cry to Him; He will help the oppressed, who have no one to defend them”. Psalm 72:12
Child Sex Trafficking (Anyone Commercially Sexually Exploited – 18 or under) is considered to be among the most severe form of trafficking – according to law. What was supposed to be the most innocent, vulnerable and playful of times becomes one of the most heinous, terrifying and traumatic times of an individual’s life if she or he survives it.
In a recent document written for schools to become more aware of trafficking and be able to spot potential victims in their schools this was stated:
Due to the abuse associated with child trafficking, many victims experience severe physical, emotional, and psychological trauma. The symptoms of trauma can impact the learning experience of students and may manifest as problematic behaviors, such as aggression and truancy. Bad behavior can be a key warning sign of abusive background and may provide a clue about possible victimization. Of particular not for educators is research that has shown a correlation between the human trafficking of children and school-related problems, including learning disabilities. Education, US Department of. 2015. Human Trafficking In American Schools. 18.
There are many complexities involved with individuals who are being exploited. The average age is 12 – this means that victims can be younger or older. And as a result people in the community and particularly those in the schools are in a especially key position to prevent and intervene in the life of child who is being exploited.
In my own life, I lived as girl who was Commercially Sexually Exploited as Child. I lived in a local community, went to a school and was in a neighborhood; yet no one ever knew what was happening in my life, or if they did they never intervened. Just as this document notates I was labeled as learning disabled (I could not learn because of all of the exploitation and trauma I endured on a consistent basis). I was told I was shy and quiet; the truth was that I was terrified to speak and did not know how to have normal interactions with others. Furthermore, as another survivor noted in the document she was too filled with shame to reach out to her teacher. I have felt the same way, you desperately need help but despite everything you are afraid if people knew __________ they would be horrified and of course you would be at fault because you have been told the world would collapse, or something like that if people found out.
Here is part of the solution, the weight of this crime is not to be put on those being victimized – it is never a child’s fault. We need our community members to be aware of what is happening, key members in the community to be trained, such as teachers, social workers, medical professionals, police, hotel workers, lawyers, foster care parents and on and on. The key is if the community knows what to look for, how to respond, and how to speak to a child who is being exploited this will save many lives. We are all needed in the fight for justice, life and to protect the weakest among us.