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Human Trafficking Awareness Month: Join the fight against modern-day slavery

Human trafficking is an issue that affects every country around the globe. In the United States, one of the biggest challenges to combating this form of modern-day slavery is a lack of awareness and understanding.

January is National Human Trafficking Awareness Month, and Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health wants to highlight the urgent need to prioritize the fight against this serious crime and violation of basic human rights. The roughly $150 billion-per-year industry involves the use of force, fraud or coercion to lure victims – often children – and force them into labor or commercial sexual exploitation.

Child sex trafficking in the U.S.

According to Shared Hope International, a nonprofit organization that works to bring an end to sex trafficking, 300,000 to 500,000 children under the age of 18 are lured into the commercial sex trade every year in the U.S. The most common ages of children who are sex trafficked are 14 to 16. 

“There was a time when we thought child sex trafficking was only a problem in developing nations, but we now know it exists in every state in the U.S.,” said Senior Vice President and Chief Clinical/Medical Officer Yolanda Graham, M.D. “There are certainly some states where child sex trafficking is more prevalent than others. In general, states with larger international airports or a booming tourist or entertainment industry are at risk for having higher levels of child sex trafficking.”  

While there is no standard profile of a victim of child sex trafficking, there are several risk factors that may make certain children more susceptible, including if they have experienced prior sexual abuse, are in the foster care system or are runaways or homeless.

Devereux’s CSEC treatment and recovery program

Devereux’s residential Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC) program provides sophisticated treatment for both girls and boys from around the country, ages 10 to 21, who have experienced emotional, physical and sexual trauma.

“Because we know that boys make up nearly 50 percent of child sex trafficking victims in the U.S., all youth – regardless of gender – who enter into our programs are screened for commercial sexual exploitation,” said Dr. Graham. “We recognize that if we only ask girls if they’ve been sexually exploited, then we miss out on treating boys who’ve also been impacted by sexual trauma, but may be less likely to voluntarily disclose that information.”

Devereux’s CSEC services – currently available in Georgia, Florida, Pennsylvania, Arizona and Texas – offer individual and group therapy to address the complex traumas of exploited youth, while also providing a sense of community. Devereux works with youth to instill skills to develop healthier lifestyles, improving their ability to safely and successfully reintegrate into their families and communities.

To learn more about Devereux’s CSEC services, click here. To learn more about Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health, click here.

  

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