Opinion ~ It’s about Damn Time!

by Tommy Herman~

This opinion piece hits close to home for me as I was a runaway and lived on the streets from the age of 11 to 23. Recently, the state of Minnesota passed a new law called ECPAT or End Child Pornography and Trafficking. This law is part of an international group that fight for children in 70 countries. The law protects run away children by treating them like victims instead of criminals. 1.8 to 2 million kids a year in the US runaway and succumb to the streets. I’m sure that figure would be even more staggering worldwide. My only thoughts on this are WHAT TOOK SO LONG? Advocates for Human Rights and organizations like Children of the Night have been around for decades and during these decades young teens and children have been victimized, charged, and convicted of prostitution. Many of them becoming afflicted with many diseases like HIV, syphilis venereal warts and many simply vanish and or die. So why now? Don’t get me wrong I was over joyed that this law was set in place but in the same breath dumb founded over its sudden importance. It makes you realize that politics rule and the individuals that rule had more important issues at hand than protecting our most valuable resource our children, our future. Perhaps they finally found a way to profit from the misfortunes of broken homes and runaway kids, perhaps some one in the government experienced a child of their own lost in the world of homelessness, or perhaps it was finally… finally about dam time!! Maybe more lives will be saved; more families brought back together and healed maybe more children will find self worth maybe…


3 thoughts on “Opinion ~ It’s about Damn Time!

  1. I agree–happy it is here but what has taken so long for this law to come to us. ECPAT groups began in 1991 and we finally enact it in 2011. Ten years – what were we doing of such importance that we kept a blind eye to the suffering of our children?

  2. Hi Tommy, This is a thought provoking commentary about the lack of protection offered to runaways wordwide. I was astonished to learn that as many as 2 million kids are runaways in the USA every year. As you say, they have prosecuted and persecuted those kids who, for some reason we may never know, chose the dangers of the streets above the safety of their own homes.

    If they ran away because they were being abused, welfare should have looked into the home situation thoroughly the minute the child was ‘taken in’ for the first time. If they ran away, or were kicked out, due to drug abuse, they should immediately have been placed into places of safety that offered long term drug rehabilition programs before returning them to their homes (if their homes are places of safety) or putting them into other places of safety until they reach 18 years of age.

    We have many street kids in SA and they are, to my knowledge, offered a place to spend the night or a meal but I don’t think they are ever put into state rehabs (many are glue sniffers or into heavier drugs). Reuniting them with their families without thorough investigation into the reasons for running away could be, to my mind, tantatamount to putting them back into the lion’s den.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this with us. I sincerely hope that ECPAT will prove effective in helping these kids now. Better later than never.

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