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If you think that sex trafficking doesn’t happen where you live, think again.

The Associated Press article, 168 Children Rescued In Sex-Trafficking Crackdown: FBI, states that “nearly 170 victims of child sex trafficking, many of whom had never been reported missing, were rescued in the last week as part of an annual nationwide crackdown, the FBI said Monday.”

The article goes on to explain, “Besides the 168 children rescued from the sex trade, 281 pimps were arrested during the same period on state and federal charges. ‘These are not faraway kids in faraway lands,’ FBI Director James Comey said in announcing the annual enforcement push known as Operation Cross Country. Instead, he added, ‘These are America's children.’”

It’s happening in Canada, too. In fact, I read several articles recently about the sex trafficking of vulnerable Nova Scotian girls by organized crime.

Why is it that when some children go missing, we move mountains to find them, but when others are lost, their loss is not even registered with our authorities? According to the article, the root of this problem is that “many of the children … were never reported missing in the first place—by parents, guardians and the entire child welfare system designed to protect them.” This is quite a commentary on how well our society is caring for our “orphans.”

One individual interviewed in the article, John Ryan, CEO of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, is asking for better laws to require child welfare service to report children who disappear. The article states: “Right now… only two states have laws requiring agencies to report children missing from their care. There is no national, uniform standard.”

It also occurs to me that the stigma of the sex trade is so great that our society may “dismiss” children caught up in that “industry” as somehow less worthy of our pursuit. We should move mountains to rescue these children, in the same way we would send out search and rescue teams for children lost in the woods. These are not “hopeless” or “faraway” or “unworthy” kids. They are God’s children, beautiful in his sight, and deserving of the same respect and love as other children.

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