Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Myth of the Rescued Child

There's a myth that perpetually circulates in human trafficking circles. And it's just as prevalent as those pesky urban legends. It's the "Myth of the Rescued Child."

Humanitarians and agencies often innocently purvey this myth whenever they recount their statistics of the number of children that they've rescued. Recently, I read a newspaper article of one humanitarian who has rescued thousands of children. Again I thought of the "Myth of the Rescued Child."

Don't get me wrong. I applaud every humanitarian in the fight. I am happy for every child who is rescued from a brothel. But I wonder what happens next. What happens once all the publicity fades? Now that's the real story.

If a child is returned to a dangerous or highly dysfunctional family, if a child is shown to some revolving door that leads back to bondage, or if a child is placed in some sub-standard shelter and warehoused for a few weeks or months without adequate preparation to remain free, then can we honestly chalk this up as a win?

I think that the only worthy goal in this fight against human trafficking is helping children to remain free long-term. To do this we must provide rescued children with quality shelters, programs that prepare them for independent living, and re-entry strategies that helps them to find sufficient economic opportunity in order to stand on their own. Now that's something to get excited out.

Guiding trafficked and exploited children to long-term freedom is what we do at Rapha House. It doesn't capture as many headlines. But I think it's worth it. And I think most rescued children would agree.

In my anguish I cried to the LORD,
and he answered by setting me free.
—Psalm 118:5