Treating Traumatized Girls


The New York Times, Letter to the Editor: "Treating Traumatized Girls"
By Dawne A. Mitchell
December 11th, 2017

To the Editor:

2 Homes for Sex-Trafficking Victims Struggle to Keep Residents Safe” (news article, Dec. 7) highlights the difficulty of working with girls in residential treatment centers. However, it fails to note that these facilities are too often dumping grounds for vulnerable and traumatized adolescents who have been repeatedly failed by the child welfare system.

Tragically, these “treatment” facilities often provide little treatment, particularly for sexually exploited girls, but instead further isolate them from their families and communities, too often for years on end. That these youths go “AWOL” to families and friends, and even their exploiters, should surprise no one. They crave meaningful, supportive connections, which are rarely available in the treatment centers.

Intensive, community-based wraparound services are a far better alternative for these youths, providing an opportunity to develop healthy long-term relationships and facilitating a transition to independent living. Without sufficient resources, residential treatment centers serve as a warehouse at best, and at worst as a pipeline into the criminal justice system. These youths deserve better.