Image: Sleep Out Movement
For six months, Rose was beaten and forced to sell her body on the street. Her pimp kept her under 24-hour surveillance and deprived her of food and vital medicine.1
A new study released in November 2017 estimates that 700,000 children between 13 and 17 years old and a shocking 3.5 million youth aged between 18-25 experienced homelessness over one year in the United States of America.2 Because of their vulnerability and inadequate support, they often go unnoticed, quietly trafficked into forced labor or the commercial sex industry.
Congress has the power to help prevent child trafficking. Introducing, then passing the Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act (RHYTPA) will be a step toward improving services and protections for homeless youth and children either experiencing or at high-risk of trafficking and exploitation.
This Act would provide important updates to current Runaway and Homeless Youth Act programs, which expired in 2013. RHYTPA was introduced in the 114th Congress and the Senate in 2015 but the session concluded before it was considered despite our campaigning efforts. That year it was also proposed as an amendment to the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act but failed to secure enough votes to proceed. We won’t give up. We must raise our voice together for vulnerable youth.
Traffickers target homeless children and youth because they are low risk and easy to manipulate, making them easily susceptible to human trafficking, often being exploited through sex and labor to receive basic necessities.3
Thirty-six per cent of all labor trafficking and almost half of all sex trafficking cases reported in the United States in 2016 involved victims whose exploitation began when they were only children, between the ages of 12 and 174 but there are likely many other cases that go unreported. Covenant House International, an international network of providers of services to homeless youth, found that nearly one in five homeless youth had been a victim of human trafficking – inclusive of sex and labor trafficking or both.5
The RHYTPA will help end this by improving prevention efforts, raises visibility, and ensures life-saving services for these vulnerable children and youth, making safety and protection a more accessible reality.
Introducing this critical piece of legislation is the first step as it would mean service providers focus on trafficking and exploitation more broadly across programs, ensuring that less children in the United States fall prey to traffickers.
We need your help to call for these essential services for America’s most vulnerable children and youth.
Will you join us calling on Congress to help prevent child trafficking?
- https://www.covenanthouse.org/homeless-issues/homeless-children-stories/rose ↩
- http://voicesofyouthcount.org/brief/national-estimates-of-youth-homelessness/ ↩
- https://www.covenanthouse.org/homeless-issues/human-trafficking ↩
- https://polarisproject.org/resources/2016-hotline-statistics ↩
- https://www.covenanthouse.org/charity-blog/blog-news/largest-ever-research-studies-find-one-fifth-surveyed-homeless-youth-united ↩