- Foster Care , Latest News
- January 11, 2022
Educating on Human Trafficking & Foster Care during National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month this January
Human Trafficking is a version of modern-day slavery. It is a crime where someone is forced or coerced into being entirely controlled by another person (someone that is referred to as a “pimp or “john”) and used for commercial sex acts or labor against their will. It is often referred to as the “crime that is hiding in plain sight.” Trafficking is often viewed as something that does not occur in the United States or to children, but we know this to be a myth as the FBI reports that about 100,000 children are victims of human trafficking each year in the US. Children in foster care are particularly vulnerable to becoming victims of human trafficking as statistics have shown that 60% of these children have a history of child welfare involvement. The average age of a girl trafficked is 12, while the average for boys is 14.
Children that have experienced extreme trauma and have mental health concerns and minimal support systems are more likely to become trafficking victims, with children in foster care very often having these factors. These children are then more easily coerced, manipulated, and become trapped into sexualized trafficking. Many are not forced and are instead coerced into trafficking by the abusers, as they prey on the vulnerability and history of the child, often promising support and a better life through what is referred to as “grooming.” Grooming is when they work to gain the youth’s trust and make promises of food, shelter, clothing, money, and gifts. It is a human need to desire being loved, cared for, and supported. Children in foster care often come from histories and backgrounds without this and crave the stability and support offered by traffickers. Once this coercion succeeds the youth then are forced into submission through the use of violence, threats, and sometimes forced drug use and dependence. The promise of a better life is how youth in care are seduced into the control of traffickers.
Children in foster care that identify somewhere on the LGBTQIA+ spectrum face an even higher risk of trafficking as they have even high rates of abuse, neglect, discrimination, and bullying. They are more likely to become homeless and be in need of financial support and belonging. History of trauma and poor mental health and stability is what traffickers seek out and exploit when they are seeking children, and these youth in care with an LGBTQIA+ identity are at the highest risk among youth in the United States child welfare systems. (To learn more about LGBTQIA+ & Foster Care, register for free & attend a Let It Be Us & Center on Halsted virtual event at Let It Be Us Foster Care events.)
The high use of technology and social networking on the internet has made this practice significantly easier for traffickers. They are more easily able to locate children and begin doing the grooming in this fashion. They are willing to put in heavy amounts of “work” in order to lure these children through this process, as they end up being a substantial payout for them once they are forced into sex trafficking.
January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month and Let It Be Us encourages everyone to support children in foster care that face a substantially higher vulnerability to being trafficked. Becoming a foster parent can allow you to support a child and provide them a safe, stable, loving, and nurturing home environment that protects them against this. If you would like to know more about becoming a foster parent you can join our webinars or our Licensing Support program that allows you to work one-on-one with a child welfare expert and current foster parents to get your questions answered and learn more about the licensing process- both of these being completely virtual and free!
If fostering is not something you’re able to do you can also become a volunteer CASA (Court Appointment Special Advocate) in order to work directly with a child in care to act as an extra advocate and voice to protect the child and advocate for their well-being.
If you are aware of someone that could be the victim of trafficking you can report this by calling the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 or text them at 233733. If this individual is a child, you can report this to the child abuse hotline as well at 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453). If a child is in immediate danger always call 911 as well.
- Learn the signs of trafficking
- Check out and sign up to attend our webinars to learn more about child welfare and becoming a foster parent at Let It Be Us Events
- Join our Let It Be Us Foster Care Licensing Support Program
- Learn more about or become a CASA at Court Appointed Special Advocates Guardians ad Litem For Children.org
- Speak Up Now – Foster Care & Human Trafficking
- The United States Justice Department – Child Sex Trafficking
- Human Trafficking Hotline
About Let It Be Us
Let It Be Us is a nonprofit organization dedicated to changing the landscape of foster care and adoption in Illinois. Our mission is to inspire foster care and adoption so more children in care grow up in stable, healthy homes. Funds raised will go to programs that build the strong and innovative bridge between our waiting children and foster and adoptive parents. Learn more at letitbeus.org
Vanessa comes with eight years of child welfare experience. She began working initially in foster care as a Permanency Case Worker and then moved into other positions in the field including; foster parent licensing, administration, quality assurance and risk management, and most recently in clinical social work as a Therapist and Parenting Educator for birth parents and children involved with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. She has also been a CASA advocate since May 2021. Vanessa earned a Master’s Degree in Social Work from Jane Addams College of Social Work at UIC and is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with the state of Illinois. She is also a Licensed Direct Service Child Welfare Employee and is Rule 402 and Child Care Act certified. She is currently working on her Ph.D. in Clinical Social Work with the Institute of Clinical Social Work in Chicago. Vanessa is deeply passionate about child welfare and committed to improving outcomes for the safety and well-being of all children in Illinois. You can reach Vanessa here.