California is attempting to switch to a victim-centered approach for its sexually trafficked youngsters. But despite the passage of two important and well-intentioned new laws in the last two years, both of which affect youth who have been sexually exploited, change has not come easily or quickly.
My young parents didn’t have the skill sets to properly raise me, which at a young age caused me to search for acceptance in other places. I began running away at the age of 13 and quickly got heavily involved in drug use.
Michelle Guymon is a hero in the world of child sex trafficking prevention.
Seven years ago, she had no idea Los Angeles County had a child sex trafficking problem
Now Guymon is director of the Child Trafficking Unit for the Los Angeles County Probation Department and is part of the group that aims to make LA’s efforts to combat child sex trafficking a model for the nation.
The numbers are huge: An Oregon study found that 93 percent of girls in the state’s juvenile justice system had been sexually or physically abused at some time. South Carolina research found that 81 percent of girls in its system had experienced sexual abuse.
We sat in court and Raquel doodled butterflies and rainbows and wrote a poem about feeling lost. I scribbled down our next court date and told her I would meet her in the lock-up when the court officers led her away. She was my first young client charged with prostitution. Sitting beside me with long fake nails and extensions in her hair, she looked older than her age of 14, but not much. The idea that our justice system charges young girls like Raquel with prostitution, and sometimes locks them up — she spent one year in detention — shocked my friends and relatives who were frequently surprised about the realities of the juvenile justice system when I shared moments from my work.
This story was produced by New America Media and The San Francisco Public Press.
On the 900-mile trek of mostly desert that stretches between Eritrea and Egypt, hunting for humans has become routine. Eritrean refugees who have fled their homeland fall prey to Bedouin or Egyptian traffickers. The refugees are held for ransom. Those with relatives abroad who can pay for their release might survive. Those who do not are often killed.
Teachers can be the first line of defense against child sex trafficking, according to Maria Velikonja, a former FBI agent who has worked on human trafficking issues for the United Nations. During a two-day conference on sex trafficking at Georgia State University, in Atlanta, Velikonja spoke about the warning signs educators should watch for in their students and what teachers can do to keep their students safe. The conference, Not in Georgia: Combating Human Sex Trafficking, organized by the Georgia Department of Education, was the third part of an ongoing series of lectures on the sex trade. In a lecture titled, “Combating Human Sex Trafficking in Georgia: What Public School Educators Can Do,” Velikonja began by outlining some of the basics of sex trafficking for teachers. “What does a potential sex trafficking victim look like?” she asked the small crowd.
As the nation gears up for this year’s Super Bowl in Indianapolis, law enforcement officials there are getting ready for the influx of children and their captors who make up a large part of the sex trade industry. This business always gets a boost from the “anything goes” atmosphere of the Super Bowl. Last year authorities made nearly 60 prostitution arrests during the time around the game, 11 of which were believed to have involved human trafficking. This uptick in activity is only a symptom of a huge problem, both here in the United States and around the globe. Worldwide, the U.S. State Department estimates that 800,000 people, roughly equal to the population of San Francisco, are trafficked across international borders, about 17,500 of which are brought into the United States. Total revenues of the trade worldwide are estimated by UNICEF to be around $12 billion dollars.
Most states aren’t doing enough to curb child sex trafficking according to a new report by the advocacy group Shared Hope International. The study, prepared in partnership with the American Center for Law and Justice, graded all 50 states on the strength of their sex trafficking laws. States that protected minors and prosecuted traffickers received the highest grades. But more than half of states received grades of D or F.
Leading the states with grades of B were Texas, Missouri, Illinois and Washington. All received high marks for criminal provisions addressing demand and protective provisions for child victims.
Georgia ranked near the top as one of only six states receiving a C because of its comprehensive human trafficking law and laws combating commercial exploitation of children.