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The Sad Connection Between Foster Care and Human Trafficking

Human trafficking is the one business where supply and demand are the SAME thing. It is humans demanding the sale of other humans. What are some industries that have a direct correlation to human trafficking? The list is endless. Some of these industries include the following: pornography, abortion, massage parlors, and nail salons.

One industry that does not get seen as having a direct correlation to human trafficking is the foster care system. This is certainly shocking to hear. How can system, meant to keep children safe or even protect them, be connected to an industry as horrible and evil as human trafficking? Just like pornography, foster care has a direct correlation to human trafficking.

The National Foster Youth Institute has estimated that” 60% of child sex trafficking victims have been within foster care (or another part of the larger child welfare system).” Nearly ⅓ of human trafficking cases are children or teenagers.

Worldwide, the number of children in forced labor is nearly 4 million. Children are more likely to be trafficked for labor, but trafficking children or teenagers for sex is very common, as the demand for child porn is increasing.

Anyone in a vulnerable situation is in danger of being targeted by traffickers. In more cases than not, a person in the foster care system has unfortunately been abused in some form (either verbally, mentally, sexually, or physically).

Some vulnerabilities foster care kids have (compared to those outside the foster care system), based on research from SOS Children’s Villages, include the following, which puts them in danger of getting exploited by traffickers:

  • Children or teenagers that experienced adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and/or thos who have gone through, specifically any with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
  • History of running away
  • Dealing with homelessness (i.e. have aged out of foster care)
  • Those with undiagnosed mental health disorders
  • Someone with a loss of security

Due to these vulnerabilities, there is an invisible target on these childrens’ or teenagers’ backs. This target is clear as day for traffickers. These people are cunning, and recognize these vulnerabilities.

Once they’ve honed in on a victim, traffickers begin the grooming process. Grooming refers to how a trafficker targets and gains victims.

Through manipulative tactics, traffickers manage to get their victim to become completely dependent on them, coercing them into doing their will. This process is not what happens in every case, but this is common in majority of trafficking cases.

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Because most foster care kids do not have that parental figure to reach out to, nor a friend to call for, foster kids are the perfect target for a trafficker because they have no one. It’s awful to learn, but it is the truth. We need to bring awareness to this.

What can be done? For one, and this is probably the most important one, we need to discuss these ideas. We need to teach children and teenagers how to be aware of these crimes. I only learned what human trafficking is because of what I saw in the movies (i.e. Rambo Last Blood), and even then I wasn’t interested in learning about human trafficking.


It wasn’t until I heard Jaco Booyens speak at YWLS that I decided to get informed on the topic. At least that’s one thing I’ll give TPUSA. They are taking the time to educate attendees on human trafficking. Schools need to create programs or select moments in class to educate students. Foster care employees must also be trained to learn how to recognize the signs of child trafficking. Ignorance isn’t bliss, especially when it comes to human trafficking.

By: Young Patriot Rising