I'll be honest. I've known for a while that sex trafficking exists, and that it is becoming a growing problem. However, when I read this article at Forbes, it took my breath away, hacked me off and made me want to cry, all at the same time. The very idea that 100,000 American children are being abducted and enslaved in sex slavery each year, and that there are only 100 shelter beds available - in the entire country - for these children, blows my mind. Even worse is the reality that in 40 of our states, children who are caught by the authorities are incarcerated and treated like criminals, rather than being cared for and treated like the victims that they are. This is unconscionable. It is immoral. Consider a few more statistical realities about the state of child sex trafficking in the US. - human trafficking is the 2nd fastest growing criminal enterprise, behind only drug trafficking - on average, trafficking begins when the child is 13 years old - the average child who is trafficked for sex is expected to see 10-15 clients PER DAY - this means that the average child will be raped 6,000 times during their victimization
The article goes on to provide much more detail. I hope you will read it.
So the question then becomes, what can the church do? What can a follower of Christ do? I am no expert - I hope I've already made that clear - but it seems to me that there are two immediate needs that we could work toward.
First, we have to put pressure on the legislative authorities of our various states to decriminalize underage victims of sexual exploitation. If we would simply stand up, contact our state senators and congressman, write the governor, etc., maybe they would begin to act on behalf of these exploited children. I'm planning on writing my first letter today.
Secondly, particularly for those who live in urban areas, the lack of shelter beds for children who are being exploited seems tragic. I don't know what it would have to look like, but it seems to me that we could create opportunities and places to provide shelter to victims of exploitation. Whether it be an actual home, or a network of homes, those of us who love Christ and love children should be the most likely to step up and help facilitate this kind of care.
May God have mercy on these children, and may the church step up and be their advocates.