Thursday, February 3, 2011

Ronald Reagan's son talks about being abused as a child & combating human trafficking in Texas

By Michael Reagan, Feb. 1, 2011

There has been a lot of media buzz about the thousands of prostitutes and strippers streaming into Dallas for the Super Bowl weekend. What rarely gets reported is the alarming fact that hiding behind the push-up bras, false eyelashes and stilettos are children as young as 12 years of age who are victims of human sex trafficking.

Human trafficking is as much a part of Texas as cowboys and oil. The business flourishes because of the state’s long stretches of interstate highways, international airports, numerous bus stations, the large shipping industry and its shared border with Mexico. This border is North America’s number one supply site for young children used in sex and labor trafficking. In the last quarter of 2007, 30% of the calls received by the National Human Trafficking Hotline were out of Texas and 25% of all international victims certified by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services were in Texas.

Domestic child sex trafficking is on the rise. According to National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway, and Throwaway Children, one out of every three children that run away is lured into sex trafficking within 48 hours of leaving home. One in five girls and one in ten boys will be sexually victimized before adulthood.

I know first hand the pain of sexual exploitation. As a child, I was sexually abused for a year by a trusted summer camp counselor. I was molested and was a victim of child pornography. No child ever completely recovers from this form of abuse.

I kept this awful secret for 32 years. Then in 1987, just half way through my father’s second term as president, I finally spoke. I told the horrible truth to my father Ronald Reagan and Nancy, my mother Jane Wyman and my wife Colleen, and then I told the world in a book I penned called On the Outside Looking In. I was no longer fearful of how my experience would affect the image of one of America’s most beloved actors and presidents. I found purpose in the pain.

In 2005, I joined with Arrow Child & Families Ministries of Houston, Texas to create The Michael Reagan Center for Advocacy & Research. The center conducts research in order to effectively advocate nationally for public policies that benefit the safety, stability and well-being of children and families, particularly those served by public and private child welfare systems. We are focused on providing a voice for children and families affected by deficiencies in the foster care system and those victimized by sex trafficking.

I applaud the efforts of Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and members of the Texas Human Trafficking Prevention Task Force for working to identify and assist children trafficked in for the Super Bowl. But come Monday morning, there will be thousands of children still living in the darkness of the sex trade.

Our research shows that the vast majority of that funding and support is directed to foreign nationals and that these services are scarce for the domestic minor victims of trafficking. Nationwide there are fewer than 70 beds for the safe recovery of victims.

I urge you to contact your local representatives to ask their support of the Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Deterrence and Victims Support Act which could provide critical funds needed to support our children. I am also calling upon you to visit and indicate your desire to be educated and equipped to address this issue.

Arrow Child & Family Ministries and the Michael Reagan Center are participating in the Safe House Now Taskforce – a program that brings together representatives of the FBI, local law enforcement, the courts, the United States and District Attorneys, Child Protective Services and Juvenile Probation, women’s groups, non-profits and faith organizations to develop a program that will provide therapeutic, educational, and housing to children caught up in sex trafficking.

The task force has identified Arrow Child & Family Ministries as the organization that will house and provide the program needed. We have developed a therapeutic and educational model that can be replicated nationwide.

Predatory monsters who destroy the innocent lives of children are everywhere. It’s time that caring adults take a strong stand against those who sexually exploit and abuse children.

Reposted with permission from the Arrow Child & Family Ministries

Michael Reagan, the eldest son of Ronald Reagan, is a child advocate dedicated to promoting adoption, improving foster care and rescuing children from abuse and neglect. He is an author, former national radio talk show host, and is chairman and founder of The Reagan Group, The Reagan Legacy Foundation and The Reagan Report. His 2004 book "Twice Adopted" is often used as a training manual to help families affected by child sexual abuse.

Arrow Child & Family Ministries is a non-profit Christian organization based in Houston, Texas that provides foster care and adoption services; operates shelters, assessment centers, and schools for troubled youth; and provides an array of preventative services for families at risk. Arrow also has comprehensive programs for adults with developmental disabilities. Arrow operates in Texas, Maryland, California, Pennsylvania and Honduras.

Contact for More Information:

Mark Tennant

Founder and CEO, Arrow Child & Family Ministries

Phone: (281) 210-1500


1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this great article and for speaking out on an important topic.
    Too many young people in our society are victims of this abuse. For some reason the sex trade is something the media doesn't want to talk about.
    Here is a very relavent piece: