Restoring a Child’s Life After the Unthinkable Happens
February 1, 2016
By Caitlyn Jenner, Contributor
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We must embrace these children after their traumatic experiences and tell them: “You are a loved human being who’s worthy in our society, who has rights to freedom and liberty, and to being valued for mind, body, and soul.”
As National Human Trafficking Awareness Month has just come to a close, I want to wrap up my three-part essay series shining a spotlight on the needed restoration of the lives of rescued child sex trafficking victims and, specifically, the incredible work of the Saving Innocence team who have made such a difference in so many lives. Led by the phenomenal Kim Biddle, Saving Innocence’s mission is to rescue and restore child victims of sex trafficking through strategic partnerships with local law enforcement, social service providers, and schools, while mobilizing communities to prevent abuse and increase neighborhood safety.
The first 72 hours after being saved are some of the most critical for a child sex trafficking victim. After all, they have just been through the unthinkable.
Let me highlight a real-life example: A 13-year-old girl was walking down a hotel hallway with her captor when a Good Samaritan saw the two of them together and reported suspicious activity to the Los Angeles authorities. Hours later, the cops banged down the door to find the young girl mid-session with a customer (that’s me phrasing it as mildly as possible). After merely citing the “John” (or more accurately: “the rapist”–see my second piece), the cops launched into a new protocol that gave this victim a way out–almost like an underground railroad of escape for child sex trafficking victims.
The first thing they do is call the Child Protective Hotline and report the abuse. It is imperative that there’s a record in the system that this child has been victimized.
The hotline worker then calls a specialized social worker within the Department of Children and Family Services, as well as deploys one of the specialized crisis advocates from Saving Innocence (the only non-profit organization that’s contracted by Los Angeles to respond with all of the government partners). The social worker and advocate will respond within 90 minutes of that initial phone call, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
For the next 72 hours, Saving Innocence is responsible for this child. …