For many Americans, Thanksgiving Day was a day of football, relatives galore, ruinous quantities of food, exuberant imbibery, and visions of the next diet and exercise program. For other Americans, however, many children among them – it was a day of pain. There were no heaping platters of steaming, delicious food, or games to play with cousins. They had no parents to provide such a holiday scenario, much less to keep them safe.
Instead, they might have had pimps and customers, all day, like every other day. One victim of sex trafficking in nearby Mexico reports that she was seduced at 12, by a man posing as a boyfriend. He groomed her with gifts. Eventually she would be forced into human trafficking – sex slavery. She serviced about 80 customers each day, every day. She was expected to pull in other women into the sex trafficking ring, as well. Overall, this exploited child, a victim of sex slavery, estimates she was raped over 43,000 times. She is now 20 years old.
It turns out that the people most vulnerable to exploitation for slavery and sex-trafficking are teenagers without strong parental guidance.
There are half-million children currently in the DHFS system (Department of Health and Family Services, aka Care) who aren’t going to be ‘home’ for Thanksgiving this year. These kids who will most likely grow up in the system and become vulnerable to victimization. Sex Trafficking, which is one of San Diego’s worst social ills, claims 11,773 people each year in San Diego. The average age of these victims is around 14, with 55% being homeless, and 28% being in foster care.
In Southern California, the foster care system is overwhelmed and overburdened. It is in dire need of volunteers, advocates, and funding.
San Diego is one of the largest centers in the United States for sex-trafficking; San Diego Police have known this since 2001. Sex trafficking is San Diego’s second largest underground economy, after drugs. In 2012, the gang revenue from sex trafficking was roughly equal to the revenue brought in by the San Diego Padres. Sex trafficking, sexual exploitation, human slavery, and prostitution in San Diego are, for the most part, ‘industries’ controlled by gangs. More and more, gangs are preferring human trafficking to drug trafficking. Gang members may tattoo their victims to show their ownership over them.
Call now at (877)792-KIDS (5437) or 1(877) I-Adopt-U (423-6788). Here is a link to the DHFS Adoption Program. To see a quick listing of requirements in order to be considered for fostering or adoption, visit IAdoptU.org.
If you prefer to help from more of a distance rather than through actual adoption or foster care, you can also refer to the advocacy program, Speak Up Now.
If you think you see human trafficking, sex trafficking, or child trafficking taking place, call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center now: 1 (888) 373-7888
If you think you see or aware of child abuse, call the San Diego Child Abuse Hotline now: 1(800) 344-6000
Together, we can end the crisis.
TIPS classes are offered for free by the DHFS for adults – single, coupled, married – who are interested in fostering or adopting children. It is part of the 35 hours of coursework required for foster licensing and adoption certification.
According to the TIPS class, at least half of the kids in foster care are are neglected or abandoned children. The other half come from traumatized situations, ranging from violence to sexual abuse and trafficking.
Even if you earn a modest income or are using social services, you may financially qualify for adoption and/or fostering. The DHFS provides modest stipends to meet a child’s most basic needs, so that the financial burden in minimal.