Sex trafficking is never far from the headlines. We’ve all seen the flashy cable news stories, the explosive reports of law enforcement stings, the harrowing images of women, many of them foreign-born, housed in rundown motel rooms.
But rarely has this coverage touched on the most hard-to-stomach — and hard-to-report — aspect of the crime: the American children plucked from schools, foster care and even child welfare facilities and sold for sex.
The Texas Tribune approached its Sold Out series from this untold perspective, giving readers a window into the lives of troubled young girls lured into Texas’ sex trade by pimps with promises of a more stable life.
And then we sought accountability.
Following a six-month investigation, our reporters revealed how state leaders’ indifference and incompetence failed these child victims on multiple levels — and how Texas’ child welfare system has become a de facto pipeline that helps feed the state’s underground sex trade. Our reporting identified fundamental flaws in the state’s safety nets for vulnerable children both in the foster care and juvenile justice systems.
Read more here.