A successful residential program for America’s child sex trafficking victims requires an appropriate adult role model to whom the child may attach. A single critical figure on whom they can depend, in whom they can confide. Someone they can call “Mom”. It is in this relationship that the child will share early childhood experiences of sexual abuse, family relationships, stories about the pimp and his activities and other closely guarded information.
They need to feel that one central character cares for them and assumes responsibility for their well-being.
Yet, most social service programs and residential care for children is staff-centered and characterized by the primary goal of retaining staff. The result is a sort of “battle of the needs” – over whether child sex trafficking victims’ needs are being met or staff needs are being met. When the child’s needs are met, the reward is a voluntary commitment by the child sex trafficking victim to work hard at learning educational skills, counseling and participation in programs designed to change their lives. Otherwise, the child sex trafficking victim is likely to return to the streets and have needs met by the pimp and accompanying makeshift family. These children need the critical figure, like “Mom,” who provides for her children unconditionally independent of the child’s compliant behavior.
There is no “quick fix” for a child who has been sex trafficked. The emotional and physical trauma occurred years prior to sex trafficking and will continue for years beyond residential care. Leading and operating a residential program for America’s child sex trafficking victims requires a life commitment. It is not a job.
So the question we must ask the non-profit community is whether we are willing to make this commitment to America’s child sex trafficking victim? Will nonprofit leadership produce these “critical figures” required to lead a new kind of residential care to address the needs of America’s child sex trafficking victim?
Learn more at Dr. Lois Lee’s Huffington Post article: The Model Residential Program for America’s Sex Trafficked Children – The First Step – The ‘Critical Figure’.