• Athena Ives

Sex Trafficking Supply and Demand

CPS and Foster Care, are they really involved in Sex Trafficking?

Finally, people are becoming aware that human trafficking is a major issue and more are learning it is occurring here in the USA. According to global research, the most common attribute of sex trafficking in the US is 60%-80% comes from Foster Care (Gallucci, 2019). In 2017, the FBI Crime Report found that approximately 75% of rapists will get away with their crime (FBI, 2017). Keep in mind, these are reported crimes. RAINN (Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network) research has found that out of 1,000 rapes, 22 are convicted and only 4 of the rapists will be incarcerated (RAINN, 2019). It doesn’t take a Criminologist to explain that criminals are likely to commit crimes they believe that they are going to get away with.

Supply and demand are what is driving the Sex Trafficking industry. There are around 917,771 convicted sex offenders in the United States (NCMEC, 2019). As you read above, that 917,771 only represents around %1 of actual sex offenders! That is some scary math right there. Think that number is high? Due to the severe lack of reporting, experts believe that number is drastically higher. According to the FBI, the average age of a female entering the sex industry is 12-14 years old. This indicates that there is a high demand for sex with children. Ok, let’s call it what it is, RAPE. There is a high demand for individuals looking to rape children.

Where is the supply coming from? To the parents out there, when you ask your kids what they want to be when they grow up, how many of them said they wanted to get paid to get raped by adults? As mentioned above, 60%-80% are coming from Foster Care. “Being in foster care was the perfect training for commercial sexual exploitation,” said a youth rescued from that abuse. Quoted in a report from the California Child Welfare Council, the child explained: “I was used to being moved without warning, without any say, not knowing where I was going or whether I was allowed to pack my clothes. After years in foster care, I didn’t think anyone would want to take care of me unless they were paid. So, when my pimp expected me to make money to support “the family,’” it made sense to me” (Kuykendall, 2019). Traffickers target vulnerable children and foster care is filled with vulnerable children being shuffled around from one home to another. Many are viewed as nothing but a paycheck. Are all foster parents evil monsters selling children to pedophiles? Absolutely not! Many are Heroes and will protect these children, giving them a kind of love, they have never experienced. But, evil hides in plain sight.

How do these children enter the Foster Care System? There are numerous reasons why ranging from the death of family to neglect. CPS (Child Protective Services) or DFCS (Department of Family and Child Services) are responsible for removing a child from their home and put into the care of the State through Foster Care. “CPS caseworkers continuously separate children from their parents at a monthly rate 300 times greater than the number of the separations at the Mexican border that took place in May 2018” (Redleaf, 2018).

Redleaf has been assisting families who had their children taken by CPS for over 30 years. She found that in 2015, the Victims of Abuse or Neglect Hotline received 7.4 million calls about suspected child victims. These calls go through a set bureaucratic system that screens about 40% of the calls and the rest are assigned to field officers for investigations. CPS will then review the findings and one-fifth (650,000) children are labeled as abused or neglected every year.

“These labels then get registered in a state-administered child abuse register, based on sometimes minimal levels of evidence (“credible evidence” in many states). This is determined by a caseworker and almost never by a judge” (Redleaf, 2018). In 2016, 273,539 children were placed in Foster Care due to CPS. “But much less attention has been paid to the untold number of children who are the subject of coerced “voluntary” separations of families are a common result of CPS Hotline investigations in as many as 37 states, and such separations may constitute an equally large number among those that were initiated directly by CPS. Unfortunately, statistics on these informal separations, never ratified in a court of law, are not maintained by state or federal agencies in any reliable form” (Redleaf, 2018).

Georgia Senator, Nancy Shaefer (Deceased) openly spoke and wrote about the extensive abuse and corruption she uncovered about CPS and its’ involvement in sex trafficking. Even more concerning, she was the victim of a “murder-suicide” by her husband and her work was covered up. The news coverage surrounding her death never mentioned her work against the corruption in CPS. She uncovered financial corruption in the state child welfare system that involved taking children away from poor and imperfect homes in exchange for federal money (Fox, 2018). In 2007, Senator Shaefer addressed her concerns in a report to the Georgia Assembly:

“In this report, I am focusing on the Georgia Department of Family and Children Services (DFCS). However, I believe Child Protective Services nationwide has become corrupt and that the entire system is broken almost beyond repair. I am convinced parents and families should be warned of the dangers. The Department of Child Protective Services, known as the Department of Family and Children Service (DFCS) in Georgia and other titles in other states, has become a “protected empire” built on taking children and separating families. This is not to say that there are not those children who do need to be removed from wretched situations and need protection. This report is concerned with the children and parents caught up in “legal kidnapping,” ineffective policies, and DFCS who do does not remove a child or children when a child is enduring torment and abuse.

The Adoption and the Safe Families Act, set in motion by President Bill Clinton, offered cash “bonuses” to the states for every child they adopted out of foster care. In order to receive the “adoption incentive bonuses,” local child protective services need more children. They must have merchandise (children) that sell and you must have plenty of them so the buyer can choose. Some counties are known to give a $4,000 bonus for each child adopted and an additional $2,000 for a “special needs” child. Employees work to keep the federal dollars flowing;

• That there is double-dipping. The funding continues as long as the child is out of the home. When a child in foster care is placed with a new family then “adoption bonus funds” are available. When a child is placed in a mental health facility and is on 16 drugs per day, like two children of a constituent of mine, more funds are involved;

• that there are no financial resources and no real drive to unite a family and help keep them together.” (Fox, 2018).

Thousands of parents who had their children taken are reporting illegal gag orders given by the judge with the excuse that they are protecting the privacy of the children. These same children who have their photos and descriptions on websites to find homes for them. Here is one example of these adds: “Please meet Jasmine. Jasmine is a beautiful and bright young lady who likes to keep everyone entertained! Jasmine is really a people pleaser and looks to others or reassurance for a job well done...Jasmine will do best as the youngest child in a family that has structure, patience and the knowledge of the effects of trauma on children” (Fox, 2018). In reality, this is a sex trafficker's online shopping dream with pictures and descriptions.

“This year, an estimated 18,000 American children will disappear, but their families will not be looking for them. Neighbors will not canvas the streets. Our Facebook feeds will not show their pictures. And after six months, the records of their existence may close entirely. This is the fate awaiting children who vanish while in the care and custody of America’s child-protection system. Some run to escape abuse. Some follow false promises of love and security. Still, others are kidnapped outright” (Olsen, 2019). Most children living in foster care experience some kind of abuse and many are sexually abused. There are numerous cases where foster children were being placed in homes with registered sex offenders. In 2011, an audit conducted on California foster care homes found over 1,000 homes matched the residence of registered sex offenders (Praetorius, 2011). No wonder these children are running away.

Withelma Pettigrew, a trafficked survivor from the foster system, testified to Congress “I spent, for the most part, the first 18 years of my life in the foster-care system. Seven of those years, I was a child being sexually trafficked on the streets, Internet, strip clubs, massage parlors ... Traffickers, pimps, exploiters have no fear of punishment because they rely on the lack of attention that occurs when these young people go missing” (Olsen, 2019). What happens when these children go missing? According to Olsen (2019), by law, they are required to report but many do not. Even though Arizona requires reporting, they are allowed to close a missing child case after six months.

CPS is a For-Profit Business that requires removing children from their homes in exchange for federal money (Fox, 2018). 13 years later, Senator Schaefer’s report is a haunting reminder that the US is failing our future generation and we are still not protecting our children. "I have witnessed such injustice and harm brought to these families that I am not sure if I even believe reform of the system is possible! The system cannot be trusted. It does not serve the people. It obliterates families and children simply because it has the power to do so. Children deserve better. Families deserve better. It’s time to pull back the curtain and set our children and families free" -Senator Schafer (Fox, 2018).


Federal Bureau of Investigation (2017). Uniform Crime Report. 2017 Crime in the United States. Retrieved from https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2017/crime-in-the-u.s.-2017/topic-pages/clearances

Fox, M. (2018). PJ Media. Is Child Protective Services Trafficking Children? Retrieved from https://pjmedia.com/parenting/is-child-protective-services-trafficking-children/

Gallucci, J. (2019). Fortune. Human Trafficking is an Epidemic in the U.S. It’s Also Big Business. Retrieved from https://fortune.com/2019/04/14/human-sex-trafficking-us-slavery/

Kuykendall, A. (2019). The Stream. New Report Shows Why Foster Care Often Leads to Sex Trafficking. Retrieved from https://stream.org/new-report-shows-why-foster-care-often-leads-to-sex-trafficking/

National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) (2019). Child Sexual Abuse Material. Retrieved from http://www.missingkids.org/theissues/csam

Olsen, D. (2019). AZ Central. How can Social Services Lose 18,000 Children and not Look for Them? Retrieved from https://www.azcentral.com/story/opinion/op-ed/2019/01/31/sex-trafficking-victims-children-state-care-missing/2730139002/

Praetorius, D. (2011). Los Angeles Times. 1,000 California Foster Care Homes Match Sex Offender Addresses: Report. Retrieved from https://www.huffpost.com/entry/foster-homes-sex-offenders_n_1037490

RAINN (2019). Statistics. The Criminal Justice System Statistics. Retrieved from https://www.rainn.org/statistics/criminal-justice-system

Redleaf, D. (2018). Cato Unbound a Journal of Debate. When the Child Protective Services System Gets Child Removal Wrong. Retrieved from https://www.cato-unbound.org/2018/11/09/diane-redleaf/when-child-protective-services-system-gets-child-removal-wrong