(Part of the Lost Childhood series)
(Every Year That Number Keeps Going Up)
On September 22nd, 1862 a great man stood before American and gave a proclamation that would set forth the framework to make certain that slavery would forever be abolished on American soil. It was with this speech that President Abraham Lincoln declared all slaves held captive on American soil free. Today slavery has spread to every state in the Union. Women, boys, and girls still to this day work in bondage to cruel slave owners who profit from the exploitation of these indentured souls.
The cause or reason for the enslavement of these victims varies with every given case of it. However the main purpose of many slaves taken from the American population or those brought into the United States is to service the sex trade. Women and children alike are abused sexually and physically to keep them in this trade. And for the most unfortunate of them, when they outlive their use they can face death at the hands of their captors.
In San Diego the number of human trafficking cases reported to the authorities has nearly tripled since 2011. Over the past two years in San Diego the number of human trafficking victims has risen to 1,277 individuals. That translates to around 638 victims each year... a number that is rising at alarming rates with every passing year. And it isn't just San Diego or the West Coast that is seeing this dramatic increase in human trafficking cases. These numbers can be seen rising sharply across the United States.
What is even more shocking is that in spite of the average 50,000 plus victims brought into the country to serve as slaves a surprising 72% of the victims in San Diego were American citizens.
When it comes to human trafficking involving child prostitution statistics show that the average entry of girls into the sex trade in America is only 12 years old. In Los Angeles these young girls are more often these days coming out of the foster care system (statistics show that as many as 70%). Others often suffer sexual or physical abuse at home and turn to pimps and human traffickers to escape... a mistake that ends in their enslavement.
So why is it that Americans are so unaware of this horrific violation of these victims' basic human rights?
Child sex trafficking is rarely discussed on major media outlets due to its taboos. Yet as more and more of our nation's future is sold off to pedophiles this illegal trade grows. The sex trafficking of children is now estimated to be the third largest and most organized criminal enterprise in the United States (and around the world). The people responsible for the growth of this industry have found that the sale of children is easy and without much risk.
In almost every state the risk of the sex trade nearly always falls on the victim. When a prostitute over the age of consent is caught she is rightfully prosecuted for the crime of prostitution. However when a child is caught, after being turned out by their pimp, the same system prosecutes the child. Instead of going after the pimp the system targets the victim... who has no ability to agree to sex in the first place.
If more of society would accept that the child is the victim and deserves our protection rather than our wrath as a society we might actually be able to stop this crime. As a society we must demand that the child be spared the punishment of a court sentencing and offered a safe haven. And as a culture we must address the reasons why these innocent children were turned out to the streets in the first place.
It is no secret that in America today that sex is a major part of the pop culture. But to blame that is an easy way out. The real threat to these children is how their predators view them in the first place.
This is how human traffickers view their victims. This is how these predators view their targets. And more indicatively, this is how American society views the victims of this disgusting crime.
We must demand that the systems we already have in place, such as foster care, be better managed and scrutinized. We must demand that our courts alter the way they view children arrested on the charge of prostitution. We need to also demand that our courts raise heavier sentences on those who prey upon our youth (in New Jersey a man got only 10 years for this crime on November 14th) and use them as slaves in this degrading trade. But most of all, we need to stop looking at these children in much the same way as the predators who target them in the first place.