On my way home but this time taking an unusual route. I noticed an African American girl standing outside a store…I recognized the look that said, “I’m homeless and hungry but too proud to ask for help” Of course I pulled off the road and passed her walking into the store. I came out and offered her a Beef Patty and a drink, which she accepted. We walked around the side of the store and sat down. Bonnie is her name; she told me she is 18 yrs of age, of course to deflect me for calling Child Services or 911. We talked for a few hours, and finally getting to the root of her situation.
Bonnie was sold to a family friend at the age of 10 and suffered continued abuse throughout her adolescent years in foster care. She was able to go to school where she said, “no one saw her the abuse didn’t show” the internal pain she was enduring crippled her from speaking up. And in her mind it was better to deal with the predictable abuse rather than the unknown. Finally she ran away and has been running since. I offered to take her to a shelter she refused because she was afraid to go to a Shelter, so I paid her Hotel Stay for a few nights. Then what I thought, how can I get her of the streets? She has faced numerous amounts of prejudice being Young Black and Homeless just like the LGBTQ Community, which makes it harder to get help. As I was leaving Bonnie I gave her my business card and prayed with her.
We have hundreds of Bonnie’s right here in Central Florida that are not counted for in any statics. Their on the run, living in bushes making make-shift tents and trying to survive. We pass them in the streets everyday and automatically they are prejudged as reckless, felons, prostitutes and drug users. The percentage of homeless students in Orange County is alarming, and they are the ones likely to end up on the streets.The Haitian and Caribbean teen girls are especially vulnerable due to deportation threats and language barriers. The possibility of losing their children become very real and it keeps them from getting the help they need. They live in cars with small children and even babies. Homeless and at risk teen girls are more likely to be forced in Sex Trafficking which at least 35% of them we have worked with have already been exposed to some type of sexual abuse in Foster Care. The Sunshine State is so bad that Florida is regarded by human trafficking experts as one of the most active states in the country. These girls are in survival mode so of course the best choices aren’t made, so before we judge them lets help them. Remember everyone has a story.
To find out how you can help us continue to provide safe housing go to www.youngseeds.org.
Call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1-888-373-7888 to: Get help, report a tip, or learn more.
During the 2012-2013 school year, the Florida school districts identified 70,215 children and youth who were homeless. This is a 10% increase from 2011-2012. Of those identified, 6,658 (9%) were “unaccompanied youth.” An “unaccompanied youth” is defined as one who is not in physical custody of a parent or guardian. The majority, 52,673 (75%) were reported as homeless and temporarily sharing the housing of other persons due to the loss of their housing or economic hardship; a one percent increase from the previous school year.
Homeless Students Reported in Florida Public School
Children’s Home Society of Florida
- Almost 300,000 American youth are at risk for trafficking into the sex industry.
- Youth in foster care are especially vulnerable to predators. Girls in foster care have been recruited by predators at school, in malls and through social media.
Emphasis on “normalcy” for children in foster care encourages child-serving providers to keep youth in their communities and to allow youth to have cell phones. While this allows them to maintain their social network, it also significantly increases their risk of becoming victimized through commercial sexual exploitation. (which proves to be dangerous)