The degradation and humiliation that accompanies child sex trafficking requires that these children are served in residential programs exclusively with other children who have been sex trafficked. They are a danger to the less sophisticated runaway and they are victimized by older, tougher street youth. In fact, many of these children meet pimps and abusive partners in youth shelters.
Foster care for America’s child sex trafficking victim as a placement option has failed miserably. Other children in the foster homes have been sexually abused by the child sex trafficking victim acting out what had been done to her, and child abuse reports have been filed by the victims against the foster parent.
Child sex trafficking victims require the same level of care as blind, crippled and/or developmentally disabled children. Because “sex is at issue” in their victimization there are some special concerns and safeguards in providing residential care, but we should not throw out State regulations for residential care. The key guiding principles for these regulations require a balancing act of “adequate care and supervision” and the rights of the child. “Rights of the Child” includes the child’s ability to not be locked in a secured facility without access to fire escapes, not be isolated in some remote area where contact with the outside world is prohibited and not separated from the activities available to other children in the same home.
Until we understand these basic premises of acceptable residential care and the challenges presented by America’s child sex trafficking victims, residential care for these children may be as damaging or dangerous as life with a pimp/trafficker.