Sex Trafficking Raids Highlight Special Dangers for Foster Children - KansasCity.com
Stangler led the Missouri Department of Social Services for 11 years. Since 2001, he has carried the same urgent messaging as executive director of the St. Louis-based Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative.
National leaders are now reiterating that message.
“I consider these kids in foster care some of the most at-risk in our nation,” said Bob Lowery, executive director of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which worked with the FBI on the raids in 76 cities.
Many of the children, almost all of them girls, will re-enter foster care.
It’s part of the constant shuffling that lays the groundwork for their exploitation. For some, their self-worth becomes so battered that they see themselves as commodities, children others are paid to warehouse. “Trauma bonding” with their abusers will cause some to run away again, Lowery said.
One study backed by Stangler’s organization found that children in foster care suffered post-traumatic stress disorder at rates nearly double that of U.S. war veterans. Yet Stangler has long focused on the young people’s resilience. He stresses the brain development between the ages of 14 to 25, advocating for the supports other young adults enjoy in the form of internships, jobs and community ties.