For some, human trafficking is something that happens somewhere else, but it’s thriving in the US. Some victims are forced to work as agriculture laborers, others must braid hair or paint nails. But many work the sex trade, and the pimps entrap young runaways of both genders to satisfy the prurient tastes of indiscriminate men. I see young people on the streets of my own city that I fear could fall prey to these sharks. Thank goodness for places like Covenant House.
According to its website, Covenant House gives shelter to homeless kids and responds to their most pressing needs. Last year alone, more than 55,000 homeless kids got help in Covenant House programs. Just under 28,000 kids were helped in their crisis shelters, long-term residential programs, the Mother/Child program and Community Service Centers located in neighborhoods across the United States, Central America, and Canada. More than 28,000 were helped through Street Outreach Programs, where staff and volunteers search in vans and on foot for kids in desperate need.
LGBTQ youth are more likely to be thrown out of their homes by their families and often have fewer options, resulting in life on the streets. When the shelters are full, and they have no place to stay, they easily fall prey to the sex predators looking for just such teens. It is critical to this group to have safe places to stay to avoid the downward spiral of the sex trade. You can read Covenant House’s paper on Homelessness Survival Sex and Human Trafficking.
I was recently approached downtown by a young girl looking for a local shelter. She looked LGBTQ, which means most shelters won’t take her or aren’t safe for her. I gave her the directions that she requested, but her plight haunted me. I wish we had a place like Covenant House in the city where I live. Covenant House has facilities in 30 cities throughout the United States, Canada, and Latin America. They are helping to get teens back on their feet. Afterward, I looked for a place in Denver where I could have referred her and found Urban Peaks.
Can you believe that almost 40% of the homeless in the United States are under 18? It’s heartbreaking, but we can help these people help the nameless youth who need help. There are ways that you can get involved or can donate. If you live in one of Covenant House’s 30 cities, you can get the word out to those who need their services. If you aren’t in one of their cities, see if you can promote a similar organization in your own city. There are homeless youth in all cities, and they all need our help.
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