Human trafficking is a major problem in the Dallas area and across the state of Texas, and in Dallas, trafficking has generated $99 million annually, according to the Urban Institute, a program of the U.S. Department of Justice.
In addition, Texas is second in the nation for human trafficking cases, according to anti-trafficking advocacy group New Friends, New Life. The organization also notes that every night, 400 teens are trafficked on the streets of Dallas.
Human trafficking affects males and females, kids, teens and adults too. Manipulation, violence, and coercion are common tactics used to bring new individuals into labor or sex trafficking situations. This is true for individuals in vulnerable situations, or even in the custody of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS).
A recently released report from the department noted that 2,094 youths in the foster system went missing during the 2020 fiscal year. That amounts to nearly 5% of all children in DFPS conservatorship. There were an additional 201 children missing on the first day of the fiscal year.
More than 1,800 of these youths were located as of August 2020, and 68 became victims of sex trafficking. There were 136 youths who went missing and reported that they had been victimized. Some of those individuals aged out of the system while they were considered missing, and some were removed from the care of the Department of Family and Protective Services while they were considered missing.
The previous year, according to One Accord for Kids, 2,122 youths in the Texas foster system were considered missing at some point, and that’s an increase of 266 over 2017 figures. he Texas Department of Family and Protective Services must keep track of 50,000 children at any given time, many of whom don’t want to stay at foster homes or be searched for when they run away.
Many of the youths in the custody of Texas DFPS don’t want to remain in foster homes or be located when they run away, according to One Accord For Kids. This can make their recovery process more difficult.
One Accord For Kids offers suggestions on how to improve the foster care system and to reduce the potential for human trafficking in relation to the foster care system.
One Accord For Kids says community is a major way to improve the DFPS system for youths and to aid in reducing instances of youths gone missing, as well as instances of trafficking. Also atop the list of changes are increasing community participation and creation of a network of community support for foster parents who want to help older youth who have more complex needs.
One Accord also suggests that communities take an active role in caring for youths in the foster care system instead of relying on DFPS to monitor all of the children from its offices in Austin. In addition, One Accord believes reducing the amount of time that youths are in DFPS custody is essential, and that finding forever homes should be the priority. It can also help to ensure that those in charge take seriously the experiences and concerns of youths in the system.