By KRISTIAM HERRERA-CARRASCO, THE NEW YORK TIMES
Boston 21:00 Social, Humanitarian And Cultural Committee – Nothing could be more harrowing than losing a child. Having to report that your child has gone missing is disconcerting, and every second that he or she is gone could mean life or death – or worse. Some might consider the selling of children into sex trafficking would be a fate even worse than death. A recent brief by the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges and National Center for Missing & Exploited Children – “Missing Children, State Care, and Child Sex Trafficking” – reveals a startling number of children who might be at risk for sex trafficking. The numbers range between 100,000 and 300,000 children (or minors in general). To make these matters worse, specifically in regards to circumstances of sex trafficking or sexual exploitation, a solid framework for procuring these children from their captors remains to be seen.
The main issue seems to be widely varying jurisdictions. Depending from where the child may be taken, the captor may not have to release him or her immediately. Another possibility is that certain jurisdictions may not move fast enough. In such a case, the captor can easily escape. Then, there is the possibility that the “child” may not even be considered a minor in some states or nations. Countries such as Iran have an age of majority at the age of 15, which could be considered quite young for most, if not all, parents. Should a child disappear to one of these areas, there would certainly be a cause for alarm. Furthermore, if a 15-year-old runaway decides to relocate to one of these countries, he or she may even refuse to be returned. This raises more questions about whether or not those individuals truly possess the capabilities to think carefully about choosing to go missing. It is definitely not the same as an 18-year-old, at the least, who chooses to go missing.
Clearly, there needs to be an established process of procurement of these children. Whether or not a nation can deem an individual an adult should not be considered a viable option if the individual has been reported missing. Too many issues regarding how separate governments view ages of minority and majority could be entangled if we allow a teenaged child to disappear to a place where he or she becomes a legal adult. Of course, there is also the factor of sex trafficking of children, and the laws that could potentially protect their captors. A firm legal outline must be put into place. This structure should locate, procure, and return individuals who are considered minors in their homelands. Permitting the escape of youth who may not be in a clear mindset – as is usually typical of runaways – or of captors due to legal loopholes, should not be tolerable.