“If there was ever a call to action for state officials to get serious about reforming foster care, this was it,” State Rep. Chris Turner said.
Top State leaders have remained silent on whether they’ll provide more resources for sex-trafficking victims or more funding for the child welfare system.
The Texas Tribune asked Texas leaders closest to the sex trafficking issue how they would begin addressing the problem. Here’s what they said.
Texas only has one specialized treatment center that can care for up to 20 of the state’s estimated 80,000 child sex trafficking victims at any given time.
The first time Yvette ran away from her home in San Antonio, she was 15. An older relative in the house had been molesting her since she was a child.
In the last year and a half, Texas lost more than 300 beds in facilities meant for the most troubled foster kids and is scrambling to replace them.
When the long-term foster care system fails them, many children turn to the underground sex industry, where pimps promise them security and affection.
State leaders pour a lot of energy into anti-sex-trafficking rhetoric, but most of their focus has been on convicting pimps, not rehabilitating their prey.
Three convicted traffickers describe the power they wield over victims and the attractions of what they call “the lifestyle.”