Teaching children survival skills may keep them from becoming targets of abusers and help them escape from abductors. Youngsters that are secure in their ability to find food and shelter until help arrives will reduce their chances of being trapped by connivers. Of even greater importance are the bonds that are created between a child and his family. Children from secure homes are less likely to become victims of child abusers.
Criminals know that runaways are easy prey; that's why they target them. Debi Pearl takes a hard look at the victimization of runaways in The Vision.
Rates of runaways soar as more and more families are disintegrating. According to the US Department of Justice, numbers of runaways exceed 2.5 million each year. Of those children who leave home, the majority become involved in prostitution. Of those, the majority are enslaved by abusers. Many of these go unnoticed because their disappearance is never reported to authorities by their malfunctioning family.
Federal agents in a nationwide sweep broke up more than 12 child prostitution rings in October 2008 that used children as young as 13 up to age 17. These operations were not just in cities. Rather, many were found in suburban and rural areas.
Predators understand their victims. Runaway children are often seeking security and safety. The abuser knows this. They lure their victims with promises of all that was missing at home: money to survive, caretaking, a loving environment, food, shelter, clothing. Force and the threat of more violence will be used by a predator to assure the children are controlled.
Runaways that are picked up by law enforcement are often given a criminal record. While the age of consent in many states is 17, there is no limit to the age at which a child can be charged with the crime of prostitution. The same laws that state a child is not old enough to consent to the act can be used to charge the child with a crime for being engaged in the act.
These children often have no one that is willing to take them in, or no family to whom they are willing to return. Safe houses that provide crisis intervention, counseling, and medical care are rare. When released from juvenile services or jail, these children often have nowhere else to go but back to the streets that enslaved them.
The Vision contains a story of several people that encounter a hopeless, young runaway. While an angry, suspicious soul stands at the crossroads, faith, long suffering and patience are all tried. This is just one of the strands that is woven into the tapestry of The Vision.