In Layhla’s story, a few of the most devastating effects of being a victim of child sex trafficking were discussed on the survivor end. These outcomes are well documented in the research literature about sex slavery. What gets rarely mentioned, however, is the tremendous financial costs to a society that deals even feebly with the traumatized victims.
A deeper cost analysis approach to Layhla’s post-slavery journey can give a glimpse into the destructive burden that we bear as a result of the self-absorption, lust and greed that fuels the child sex trafficking so prevalent in our culture. Since she is under the state’s Medicaid and behavioral health programs, most of her medical/psychiatric costs have been covered, by the taxpayers in the end.
Layhla’s journey over the past 20 months*
- Transportation away from the home town of her dad: $100
- Emergency housing for one month: $500
- Shelter housing for five days while waiting for a plane ticket: $150
- Plane ticket to a new state: $500
- 210 days in mental health residence (interspersed with stays in behavioral health settings): $4000
- 400 days in behavioral health hospitals
- 330 days at $1000/day: $330,000
- 70 days at $2500/day: $175,000
- Pro-bono counseling from committed friends of a friend: 2 hours per month for 10 months: $1000-2000
- Medications: (meds and med combinations have changed numerous times so this is probably a low estimate) $500 per month for 20 months: $10,000
- Cell phone (paid for by a friend back home): $20 per month for 20 months: $400
- Cab transportation for medical appointments: average round trip is 40 miles with conservative estimate of $2.00 per mile, 1-2 visits per month for 20 months: $1600-$3200
- Case management services (This is really hard to compute since there are case management personnel within different agencies that intersect for the mental health care. Assume a worker gets $35,000 annually, and Layhla is one of 35 on her caseload just for a simple number): $1000 per year for 20 months: $1700
- Trips to the ER for suicidal tendencies and flare ups of physical problems: 8 visits with a minimum of $1000 per visit: $8000
- Paramedic services for overdose: $500 per call
- Paramedic transport: $500 per ride
- Crisis Response team services: $300 per visit, 5 visits: $1500
- Hospitalization for gall bladder surgery with 3 day stay: $10,000-$20,000
- Fibromyalgia and pain specialists: $200 per visit for 8 visits: $1600
- TENS unit for back pain: $150
- Injections of pain blockers into back:
- Ablation of nerves in back:
- Radio Frequency Ablation of electrical circuits on heart:
- Food stamps: $200 per month for 10 months: $2000
Altogether, this is well over $560,000, not counting the items for which no prices are listed. Conservative estimates were used, both on the prices and the number of services needed. Without proper therapy, Layhla will continue to be dependent on the government funded services and will not be able to support herself. Lost wages for being unemployable would add another $15-$20,000 per year or more to the total. One she receives SSI, another few hundred a month will be drawn from the public funds.
Consider that there are 300,000 United States children who are being sexually abused and trafficked every single night, multiple times. Not all will exhibit these same issues, but the majority won’t be getting any help at all. Typically, sexual abuse, even without the trafficking component, can lead to depression, suicidal tendencies, mental health issues, rage, proclivity to drug and alcohol addiction, promiscuity, poor choices in relationships (which are more likely to be abusive), poor self-esteem, increased susceptibility to STDs and STIs, PTSD, lowered immune systems, increased tendency to end up in a lower economic strata with less education. Add the intensified trauma of being trafficked, and potential for greater problems is exponential. Children who get thrust into the trafficking scene have an average seven year life expectancy if they are not rescued from this living death.
Rescuing and caring properly for these children is extremely costly financially. Doing nothing guarantees that the problem will get worse and the cost to our nation and our souls will be unimaginable.
*Costs are approximated based on market value of services when actual numbers are unknown.
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