Monday, December 15, 2014

Something We Don’t Talk About

When I started interning for my Master’s in Social Work, the field supervisor asked me about my support network, at first I didn’t know what she was talking about. I first thought she meant the support group that I go to, but what she meant was who it is that I turn to for emotional support is.

I didn’t think I would ever need support because I was my concentration was community organizing, after all how emotional can you over community organizing. But once I did need support and even today when I think back to that meeting it affects me.
Out Of The Shadows: Sex-Trafficking A Threat to Runaway Connecticut Teens
Hartford Courant
By Josh Kovner
December 12, 2014

Trafficking of children for sex isn't confined to the dark alleys of mysterious foreign cities. Children don't have to be chained as sex slaves in cages in dank basements. It was, and is, happening in Connecticut, and is as simple as a girl, or even a boy, running away from a foster home or somewhere else and bumping, literally, into a pimp trolling the mall or the park for just such a target.

In response, Connecticut has passed new laws that treat sexually exploited teens as victims instead of prostitutes, made it easier to prosecute traffickers and created teams of police, social workers and medical professionals who respond on raids. Public awareness of the problem has increased, as illustrated by a steady rise in reports of suspected exploitation to the state Department and Children and Families' abuse and neglect hotline.
"There are people looking for them,'' DCF's Tammy Sneed said of the pimps and predators. Sneed heads the department's child sex-trafficking initiatives and has trained hundreds of law officers and case workers. "They know where to look and who to look for."
Sneed said that one out of every three runaway children — those in DCF care or otherwise — are approached by a pimp within the first 48 hours. The pimps use the "bump" to gauge a young teen's reaction, case workers and investigators say. If her eyes are downcast and she seems submissive or vulnerable or unsure, the pimp moves in and starts the "Romeo," or grooming, phase: offers of clothes, food, gifts, shelter, pseudo affection.
The meeting that day was at the office of Court Support Services Division, it was about a teenage trans-girl that ran away from home and was picked up by a pimp at a bus station in a city in Connecticut, got her hooked on heroin, and forced her to work the street. She was busted and testified against the pimp who then shot her on the court steps and put out a contract on her. CSSD was looking for a save place where they could place her. I was at the meeting to fill-in for the director of a family and youth service agency and listening to her story made an indelible memory that I will carry to my grave.

I know a woman who was thrown out of the house when she came out to her parents in Virginia, at the time she was a teenager, and she worked the streets to survive. When she was busted and the police found out she was trans, they beat the crap out of her. She eventually made her way up north and a YWCA residency shelter took her, she eventually got a Section 8 voucher.

Most people think of some far off exotic port when they think of white slavery, but it happen here in Connecticut and all over the U.S. If you want to help end it become a foster parent and give them a safe home.

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