By: Dr. John DeGarmo
Child Sex Trafficking. It’s an ugly secret that many in the 21st century simply do not know about. It is also an ugly dark secret that many today wish to ignore. Yet, today’s children are at risk more than ever. For children in foster care, it is an ever present danger.
Sadly, the search for love for many children in foster care leads to a road of sexual exploitation. Foster children often are in need of love, yet do not know what a healthy and loving relationship is. With no one to show them early in their lives what true unconditional or healthy loving relationships are, children in foster care mistakenly seek it out, often times online. What many do not know, though, is that there are sexual predators online that are waiting for these foster children. These sexual predators know that foster children are particularly vulnerable to this kind of assault. These predators are often luring these children into a horrific web of child sex trafficking.
It is difficult to correctly profile today’s online sexual predator. In the early part of the twenty first century, the sexual predator may look like the neighbor next door, the doctor in town, the co-worker in your building, the owner of the successful business. Sexual predators come from all races, all nations, and all socio-economic situations. These predators believe that they will not get caught, as they feel the internet will give them a sense of anonymity.
Sexual predators seek out their victims by “luring” them in, or encouraging young children to reveal personal details and information about not only themselves, but their family members, as well. Online predators develop relationships with their victims slowly, known as “grooming,” usually in a non-threatening way. Predators scour the internet through chat rooms and social network sites, looking for children who are technically more advanced than t heir parents. Building a relationship throughout a period of time, over the course of weeks and sometimes even months, child victims feel that they can trust their new “friend.” These victims characteristically have experienced abuse at some point in their lives, having a history of prior sexual abuse. Along with this, victims have low self esteem problems, and are emotionally troubled or depressed. All of these signs are common to foster children. For the foster child who is craving someone to pay attention to them, to be their friend, and to love them, they are easy prey, making them easy targets for online predators.
It is time for us, as a society, to no longer ignore these sexual predators and child sext trafficking. It is time to recognize these dangers and rise up and put an end to it. It is time for you to stand up and fight for these children. If you do not, who will?
Dr. John DeGarmo has been a foster parent for 13 years, now, and he and his wife have had over 45 children come through their home. Dr. DeGarmo is the author of several foster care books, including the brand new book Love and Mayhem: One Big Happy Family’s Story of Fostering and Adoption. Dr. DeGarmo is the host of the weekly radio program Foster Talk with Dr. John, He can be contacted at drjohndegarmo@gmail, through his Facebook page, Dr. John DeGarmo, or at hiswebsite.