Is There Room? Making room in your own home, in your year, can help keep kids safe from trafficking
January 2023 · Forward in Hope
Human trafficking, also known as trafficking in persons, includes both forced labor and sex trafficking. It’s a crime, and many of its victims are children. That’s why it matters to Saint Francis Ministries.
January is National Human Trafficking Prevention Month so we’re hoping to raise awareness about this crime against human dignity, especially sex trafficking.
Unfortunately, youth in foster care are often at risk for trafficking. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “A large number of youth in foster care run away from their placement at least once, and many do multiple times. Running from care is associated with a range of serious negative consequences, including human trafficking victimization.”
What’s more, the National Foster Youth Institute estimates that 60 percent of child sex trafficking victims have been involved in the child welfare system at one time.
Saint Francis Director of Clinical Services Jennifer Voth adds that youth involved in foster care often share several common risk factors, including:
- struggles with mental health,
- experiences of some type of abuse,
- a broken or limited support system,
- unstable placement,
- and a lack of a sense of belonging.
“Thus,” she says, “youth involved in the foster care system may be more susceptible to being manipulated, coerced and or forced into commercial sexual exploitation. Saint Francis Ministries, in partnership with law enforcement and DCF, has intentionally implemented human trafficking awareness training, risk assessment, and interventions to address confirmed or high-risk involvement with human trafficking identified in youth in the foster care system and in Saint Francis Ministry care.”
For years now, Saint Francis has also advocated for and served minor victims of sex trafficking, and today we help identify, assess, and heal survivors.
Our Immediate Response Assessment Team works closely with the Kansas Department for Children and Families and law enforcement to identify immediate safety, placement, and treatment needs for high-risk youth. We also watch for potential human trafficking involvement among youth in care. If either involvement or high-risk is apparent, we refer the youth to our Permanency Clinic for Anti-Human Trafficking team for specific therapeutic services. A licensed mental health therapist trained in human trafficking and trauma-informed care provides care focused on restorative practices.
Yet, we’re just one part of prevention. Is there room in your year to educate yourself and take action to help prevent the trafficking of young people? Is there room in your heart to help a child that you suspect might be a victim of sex trafficking? The U.S. State Department offers a list of ways each of us can protect youth from bondage.