Typically, law enforcement has few options when recovering victims of sex trafficking:
- Emergency children’s shelters, if available, which accommodate children that are taken from their abusive homes by law enforcement or Child Protective Services can be used.
- If not charged with a crime, then can go to a shelter. These are not lock-down facilities and there are no means to force the girls to stay. If no shelter, they go to jail or juvenile hall.
- If charged with a crime, like prostitution or theft, they will go to jail or juvenile hall as a criminal and not viewed as a victim.
Most shelters are not long-term care.
- There are only a handful of homes that provide safety and care for these broken and damaged girls.
- Most women will have suffered years of abuse, with layers of baggage, that will take years to work through. They have lived in survival mode and need much time to begin to trust anyone.
- Children are typically placed within a foster family within 30 days. Staying for only 30 days makes it impossible to build trust with the victim. Many of the victims rescued from sex trafficking have already run away numerous times from a foster family or group home setting and will do so again.
- Recovered victims often recruit other children at the shelter for their pimps.
Prison and Juvenile Hall:
- Again, the minors must be charged with prostitution or another crime, thus they are not treated as victims.
- Treatment plans are only aligned with criminal charges, which are ineffective in addressing the health and emotional issues they have.
- Most of them will return to a life on the streets after completing their sentences, where their chances for survival are slim.
It is a vicious circle with no real answers or hope.