With the onslaught of internet solicitation, the number of children forced into sexual slavery each year is alarming. Nationally, human trafficking generates $9.5 billion annually, and the average age of a new child is 13-14 years old.
Locally, The FBI says it’s one of the biggest issues facing the Milwaukee area. In fact, during the most recent sex trafficking sting operation in July of last year, Milwaukee had one of the highest number of exploited children discovered during the operation.
It’s not just a problem that surfaces in the city, as experts note human trafficking in rural areas is also on the rise. Runaways and homeless youth are among the most vulnerable population – with 90% becoming part of the sex trade business. Most are coerced within 72 hours on the street.
That’s why last fall, Lad Lake opened a specific residential campus to offer a safe-haven for survivors of sex trafficking. As one of the few facilities of its kind in the U.S., the center offers a safe, therapeutic and trauma-sensitive environment for victimized girls. The program works to remove young girls from human trafficking, while helping build self-esteem. While the program currently serves a small population compared to the need, the hope is, with more funding and expanded outreach, Lad Lake will help remove even more young girls from sex trafficking, and teach the life skills needed to return home safely to their parents or guardian.
We thank the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Wisconsin Public Radio for drawing attention to this critical problem in our community. You can read the most recent article about a survivor of youth trafficking treated at Lad Lake here: http://www.jsonline.com/news/crime/survivor-of-child-sex-trafficking-determined-to-help-victims-b99521817z1-310788041.html