Homeless Youth in America and Human Trafficking

Whenever I hear in the media about a child, a teenager, who has run away from home or is missing, I can’t help but fear for their lives.  Did you know that within 48 hours of a child who has run away from home, a trafficker will seek out this child and try to get them into the human trafficking system?  That is not a lot of time.  Children, particularly teenagers, run away from home for various reasons.  Many deal with abuse and neglect at home.  Many are turned away or kicked out.  40% of the youth who are homeless identify as LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/ Questioning).  Most are homeless after coming out to their families, because they are abused or simply kicked out.  Today we are focusing on these youth, because their voices are not heard.

 

There is a lot of information about bullying and suicide in the LGBTQ community.  The issues of gay rights and marriage is a huge hot topic today.  But when it comes to homelessness, this issue is usually swept under the rug.  I am here to bring this difficult subject to light and to do something about it.  The LGBTQ youth have a hard time here in America.  They are the group that will face the most discrimination, first in conservative homes, usually being abused by their families and/or church,  and discrimination at school.  Many of these youth turn to suicide, which is the highest rate among LGBTQ than any other group of young people.  Others try to find hope by leaving their situation, which is not much better for them.  There is a lot of discrimination in the service agencies that help homeless youth, sometimes through the government and others by policies adopted by these service agencies.  LGBTQ youth are turned away at alarming rates.  It is also true in the foster care system, as many youth are turned away, and the need is growing for foster parents of children who identify as LGBTQ.  So when a child who is gay or transgender is kicked out of their home, leave because of abusive situations at home, or the legal and governmental systems turn away, it leaves little hope.  Plus, traffickers prey on youth, who are particularly vulnerable and desperate.  They prey on their hopes and dreams of a better future.  So of these 40% of LGBTQ homeless children, many will end up in the human trafficking system- sometimes simply because they have no other choice.  This is heartbreaking!

We must do something to help these kids.  No matter what you feel on the issue, we need to help.  No one should go through life feeling this rejected.  LGBTQ children are not garbage to just throw away.  If you care about helping out in the fight against human trafficking, we need to also give these kids a chance.  Today, you can.

 

The Polaris Project, a leading agency against human trafficking, recognizes this as a problem within the human trafficking ring and youth homelessness.  They are helping to raise funds to create shelters for homeless LGBTQ.  This is the step in the right direction to give LGBTQ youth a place to get off the streets.  Through private funding, this can be possible.  Please join me, either in fundraising, or in donating to this worthy cause.  For more information, visit my fundraising page below, or at http://www.polarisproject.org/take-action/fundraise/peer-to-peer-campaigns

 
Donate Here!

 

Identifying Child Victims of Human Trafficking

As educators, parents, and adults working with children, it is important to look for signs of child slavery with the kids we work with on a daily basis.  Do you know what to look for?   Here is a list of things to look for:

  • Children who are  hungry often, malnourished (not reaching full height, underweight, etc.), or have poorly formed or rotted teeth.
  • Not attending school or attends sporadically or has a significant gap of schooling.
  • Signs of physical abuse (bruising, scars, constant broken bones), and cannot explain injuries.  Also, abuse so extensive that it causes headaches, hearing loss, heart and breathing problems, chronic vision problems, back problems, and limb amputation.
  • Signs of sexual abuse through untreated sexually transmitted diseases, HIV/AIDS, kidney problems, urinary tract infections.
  • Signs of psychological abuse: fearfulness, submissive, helplessness, humiliation, shame, disorientation and confusion. 
  • Signs of anxiety disorders: post traumatic stress disorder, panic attacks and depression.

Keep in mind ANY significant changes in a child with the above items as an indicator can be a red flag.

If you suspect anyone is a victim of human trafficking and they know you well and has gained a trust in you, ask the child some of these questions:

  • Can you come and go as you please?
  • Has anyone ever touched you or hurt you?
  • Where do you sleep or eat?
  • Do you have to ask permission to eat, sleep, or go to the bathroom?
  • What are your living conditions like?
  • Is there  lock on your door where you cannot get out?
  • Have you or your family been threatened?
  • Are you allowed to do after school activities or go to religious services?
  • Do you work at a job after school?  How much do you work?  Are you allowed to quit? 

Keep in mind that a child (under the age of 18) who is a constant runaway, works on a migrant farm, helps a parent as a domestic servant, or is mistaken as a prostitute may be a victim of human trafficking.  If you suspect any child who is a victim, please contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888. 

Welcome to TrueFreedomKidz

Welcome to my blog.  This blog consists of information, stories, and tips to help in the fight of human trafficking.  It is estimated that close to 30 million men, women and children are slaves in the human trafficking pandemic.  Human trafficking takes the form of labor trafficking and sex trafficking.  As many as half of these numbers are children as modern day slaves.  It is true that slavery is abolished in almost every nation around the world.  However, there are more slaves today than at any other time in our world history, including our American history with the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. The only countries in the world that do not have any documented cases of human trafficking are Greenland and Iceland.  Human trafficking is not just happening in countries half-way around the world; in fact, America is deep within the sex trade, with foreign AND domestic sex trafficking happening on our soil.  Our own children in the United States fall victim to sex trafficking, as early as age 13.  The statistics are staggering!  I will post some of these on my statistics page coming soon.

So, what can I do to help?  With these numbers, how can I even begin?  We will discuss this and many more things in the weeks and months to come: signs to look out for, how to get involved, agencies and non-profit organizations to help combat human trafficking, and even more about modern day slavery as a whole.  The more you know, the better equipped you are to fight this.  And we all must do our part.  It is time to stop turning a blind eye to the horrors of human trafficking, particularly when it comes to our children.  Will you help?  Please consider subscribing to this blog to educate yourself and your family, neighbors, and friends.  Also, follow us on Twitter at truefreedomkidz.  Thanks for joining the fight!