Globally, the International Labor Organization estimates that there are 24.9 million victims of human trafficking, and that the #1 force that contributes to a rise in human trafficking is poverty. When statistics focus on the US, however, the main driving force is the breakdown of the family.
Whether it is coercing individuals into forced labor or sexual exploitation, traffickers seek out people who are vulnerable and are skilled at identifying them. This includes anyone without a family or without someone who will raise an alarm if they go missing. Unfortunately this means that children in the foster care system are actively targeted for trafficking.
Other vulnerabilities include being homeless, having an intellectual or physical disability, identifying as LGBTQ+, having a prior history of sexual abuse, and a history of drug addiction.
When a child lacks a caring adult who puts their child’s interests first, that child’s chances of becoming a victim of exploitation and abuse like sexual slavery and human trafficking increases. This is why it so important to ensure that vulnerable children like those in the foster care system have a trustworthy and caring adult advocating on their behalf.
At Passaic County CASA, we recruit and train volunteers to serve as court-appointed advocates for children and teens in the foster care system and we see firsthand the difference that it makes. In recognition of National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, we’re calling on our community members to consider becoming court-appointed child advocates for these vulnerable youth and to learn more about slavery and human trafficking in New Jersey.
Help protect vulnerable children. Become a Court Appointed Special Advocate.
If you would like to report any suspicion of human trafficking, the National Human Trafficking Hotline (1-888-373-7888) is toll-free and available from anywhere in the country, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year in more than 200 languages. The National Hotline can also be accessed by emailing email@example.com or texting 233733.