ATLANTA – Georgia youths in the custody of the state’s foster care system are disproportionately likely to become victims of child sex trafficking, several experts in the subject testified Monday.
Between 2018 and last year, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children received more than 2,400 reports of children missing from foster care in Georgia involving 1,790 children, many of whom went missing several times throughout the year, Samantha Sahl, supervisor of the national nonprofit’s Child Sex Trafficking Recovery Services Team, told a U.S. Senate subcommittee at a hearing in Atlanta.
Of those missing children, 410 were identified as likely child sex trafficking victims, she said.
Sahl and other witnesses blamed the trend on children who run away from horrendous conditions they suffer in foster care settings resulting from systemic failures by the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS).
“We know we have an urgent issue when children feel better on the streets or with a trafficker than they do in their foster-care placements,” Sahl said.