Military and Police

Kids Placed in Social Services at High Risk for Sex Trafficking

While an active cop, I had plenty of opportunities to deal with both “street kids” (many of whom were reported and unreported missing children) and government and private social services agencies that ostensibly served them.

My beat included areas frequented by runaways and also had an abundance of social services facilities. So, I had plenty of information to form opinions on both. My evaluations often brought only concern and my observations found that social services are staffed and supervised mostly with people who hold a leftist political view. This affects how they approach their jobs, leaning toward the state having more rights over children than their parents do.

And while some children may be endangered by leaving them with “bad parents,” there’s mounting evidence that placing kids into the social services system may also place them in danger.

Petr Svab, writing for The Epoch Times, recently reported some disturbing statistics about runaways and the social services system which exists to serve them. The data indicate that children placed in government care and social services are at a high risk of falling prey to sex traffickers. And the problem is getting worse.

Svab reported, “In 2013, 60 percent of child sex trafficking victims recovered as part of an FBI raid in 70 cities had,” according to Carrie Johnson, NPR’s justice correspondent, “some familiarity with or involvement with either group homes or the foster care system.”

There were about 10,000 runaways reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) in 2014. Of those kids, 68 percent were in the social services system when they absconded. The NCMEC reports, “Nearly 1,700 of them were likely victims of sex trafficking.”

By 2017, NCMEC received reports of almost 25,000 kids who ran away, of them, some 3,600 were probably sex trafficking victims. “Of those [3,600], 88 percent came from the social services system.”

In 2018, people reported 420,000 missing kids to the FBI. The NCMEC believes the scope of the problem may exceed the statistics. They believe the number may reach as high as 1.3 million missing children per year.

And while most missing children either weren’t actually missing, were quickly found, or simply returned home, the higher overall numbers mean the number of kids under state supervision and those exploited also increase.

According to Svab’s story, social workers may too often remove children from homes where there’s little evidence of abuse to warrant removal. Sometimes, social workers have even fabricated evidence to remove kids from their homes.

On the other hand, social workers are under pressure to place kids under state supervision or to remove children from bad homes due to high-profile cases of abused children they didn’t remove. They often have huge caseloads and may be disciplined or even prosecuted when they don’t remove children who are subsequently neglected, abused, or even murdered.

Still, society cannot ignore what Svab has reported. When you put together the raw numbers, they tell us children placed in state care have a higher chance of being sex trafficked, and the numbers seem to be increasing. As I mentioned earlier, these kids enter a social services system inundated with people who have a leftist bent on modern social work philosophy and application.

Don’t we have to wonder if some possibly more effective solutions or strategies might be excluded even from consideration if they come from a less politically liberal perspective? And doesn’t that mean we’re putting more children at a higher risk of falling victim to sex traffickers?


The opinions expressed here by contributors are their own and are not the view of OpsLens which seeks to provide a platform for experience-driven commentary on today's trending headlines in the U.S. and around the world. Have a different opinion or something more to add on this topic? Contact us for guidelines on submitting your own experience-driven commentary.
Steve Pomper

Steve Pomper is an OpsLens contributor, a retired Seattle police officer, and the author of four non-fiction books, including De-Policing America: A Street Cop’s View of the Anti-Police State. You can read a review of this new book in Front Page Magazine and listen to an interview with Steve on the Joe Pags Show. Steve was a field-training officer, on the East Precinct Community Police Team, and served his entire career on the streets. He has a BA in English Language and Literature. He enjoys spending time with his kids and grand-kids. He loves to ride his Harley, hike, and cycle with his wife, Jody, a retired firefighter. You can find out more about Steve and send him comments and questions at

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