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February is Black History Month – Black Girls are more likely to be trafficked at a younger age.

February is Black History Month. It was nationally recognized by President Gerald Ford in 1976 as a time to honor the important role African Americans play in the story of our country.

Black History Month is an annual celebration of achievements by African Americans and a time for recognizing their central role in U.S. history. Since 1975, every U.S. president has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month.

Let's not forget though that in a two-year review of all suspected human trafficking incidents across the country by Rights4Girls, 94% of sex trafficking victims were female, 40% were Black, and 24% were Latino. Black children account for nearly 53% of all juvenile prostitution arrests—more than any other racial group. Together we can #EndHumanTrafficking.

Socioeconomic status is one of the top contributors in increasing the chances of sex trafficking.

  • Black girls are more likely to experience poverty than their racial counterparts.

  • Compared to their racial counterparts, Black girls are more likely to be trafficked at a younger age.

  • Traffickers tend to target individuals with a low socioeconomic status.

  • Due to unemployment, debt, and need to provide for themselves and their children, many victims are less likely to leave the situation.

“Adultification” and Sexualization of black girls

The Center on Poverty and Inequality created a study which found that adults viewed Black girls less innocent and more adult like than white girls.

  • The study found that compared to White girls of the same age Black girls were viewed as in need of less nurturing, less protection, less support, less comfort, are more independent, know more about adult topics, and know more about sex.

  • Due to attributing these characteristics to Black girls, there may be a suggested influence for law officials to criminalize Black girls, rather than seeing them as victims.

  • In the context of sex trafficking, discretion “enables racial bias—implicit or explicit—to shape who is viewed as a perpetrator and who is viewed as a victim.”

Discipline policies in schools

Black girls are more likely to be disconnected from the education system and be off track for achievement than their racial counterparts.

  • Black girls are two times more likely to be disciplined for minor infractions like dress-code violations or loitering.

  • Black girls are two-and-a-half times more likely to be punished for disobedience, and three times more likely to be cited for being disruptive.

  • Black girls were six times more likely to be suspended as their white counterparts. Only 2 percent of white females were subjected to exclusionary suspensions in comparison to 12 percent of Black girls.

The question becomes how we can counteract and end this injustice. The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation has published some valuable information and recommendations to address the matter.

Policy recommendations

  • Extend more resources to Black girls in the foster care system

  • Educate law enforcement on how to identify victims of sex trafficking

  • More development of diverse work forces in child care services

  • Educate communities and schools about sex trafficking

  • More legal services and protections extended to Black women and girls

  • Replace zero-tolerance in schools with restorative justices policies

Although there has been recent progressive legislation focused on combatting sexual violence against Black women and girls, there needs to be a continued education within communities to understand what commercial sexual exploitation is; By educating law enforcement, teachers, social service providers, and other community members about the sexual exploitation Black women and girls’ face, more awareness can be raised and these victims will be able to feel more supported. In addition, legal services and protections they are inclined to receive must continue to be extended to them.

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