Recent news that US Marshals in Georgia rescued 39 children who had gone missing might seem like a miraculous ending to a sordid tale of children kidnapped and exploited for child sex trafficking and sexual, physical, and emotional abuse.
The truth is, while their rescue by federal, state, and local authorities was a blessing and an incredible law enforcement accomplishment, their recovery begins now.
They, and many of the 765,000 children reported “missing” in the U.S. every year, suffer heinous, unspeakable abuse that likely scarred them for life. Many are drugged, chained or caged, and forced into prostitution or child pornography. They are left emotionally destroyed.
For these rescued children, ages 3 to 17, their therapeutic, emotional, and educational challenges have just begun. Only with extraordinary, intensive therapy, therapeutic placements, and vocational training will they have a fighting chance of returning to any semblance of normalcy. Even with years, maybe a lifetime for some, of ongoing, individualized therapy, some may never return.
But we must try. Rescuing them was just the start. Now, state and local child welfare agencies and specialized programs must help them heal.
If you have information related to missing, abducted, or runaway children, or are in need of help or counseling, contact the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s national toll-free hotline at 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678), the Polaris Project, the US Marshals Service Missing Children’s Unit, or local law enforcement.
Read more from CNN, here.