Children are not adults. Some children suffer from abuse or neglect. They need protection. It is the job of parents and caretakers to take care of children. If parents and caregivers fail, then it is the state, the courts and private groups that must protect them.
The first challenge to know is when kids need protection. To know that, you have to know who they are and where they are.
Thousands of children poured over the U.S,/Mexican border in the last few years. Most come from Central America. They are fleeing grave danger at home. They come without adults.
There is a worldwide refugee crisis. In the U.S., it is a crisis of children. The federal government is new at dealing with so many kids. They are trying, but they are not doing it very well.
The biggest problem is what to do with the children who arrive at the border. If they claim they are seeking asylum from danger, they cannot be returned home. They have a right to a court hearing.
The child first goes to a center. They get health checks. Then the U.S. tries to find a sponsor to care for the child. Often the sponsor is a relative. The sponsor is where the trouble can start. The child may, or may not, know the sponsor. The sponsor may not have been vetted for criminal activity or fingerprinted. In worst cases, the sponsor may turn out to be a human trafficker.
Some of the children face exploitation. Some have ended up working endless hours on farms or in factories. Sponsors tell them they are paying off the cost of their journeys. Their conditions are dangerous and inhumane.
Recently some children were found working on an egg farm in Ohio. They were living in hovels. They worked long hours every day. Rescue efforts are underway.
No one knows how extensive the problem is. Authorities are now paying more attention to their conditions.
Sources: The Washington Post January 25, 2016