AUSTIN (KXAN) — It’s a startling statistic: 100,000 children in the U.S. are trafficked for sex every year. For parents who don’t think it could happen to their child, Brooke Crowder with The Refuge, a center that helps child survivors of sex trafficking, says it can happen to any child.
“The common denominator among children at risk is their age. Twelve is the average age of a child that is lured into sex trafficking,” says Crowder. “It is runaways, high-risk teens, but it can also be my daughter.”
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) says of the children reported missing to NCMEC in 2015 who were also likely child sex trafficking victims, 74 percent were in the care of child welfare when they went missing.
Crowder, who is the executive director of The Refuge, says these numbers is why The Refuge exists. Located on 50-acres in Bastrop County, the ranch would offer long-term help for girls ages 11 to 17. Each girl admitted would have her own unique plan for recovery.
“Once we’re open, it’s going to be a place where child survivors can come to get all the services they need to heal.” The University of Texas is also building a charter school on the facility.
Earlier this week, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton launched the state’s first human trafficking unit. The unit will coordinate state-wide with police and officials to raise awareness about the growing problem. Paxton said the unit will be involved at every possible level to eliminate this issue in Texas.