California’s Forgotten Children
A hard-hitting and relevant documentary about child sex trafficking
Critic’s Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
Director: Melody C. Miller
Duration: 1 hour, 36 minutes
Streaming on: Amazon Prime
This documentary about child sex trafficking recounts true stories of girls and boys, who were commercially sexually exploited in California and are now survivors and courageous leaders fighting for the rights of victims worldwide.
Director Melody C. Miller’s hard-hitting and very real documentary begins with some startling statistics that immediately puts into perspective the disturbing issue of the sexual exploitation of children and trafficking. Some of these include extremely alarming numbers. Some 2000 Children go missing every day in the United States (as per National Center for Missing and Exploited Children) and the average age of entry into the commercial sex trade is 12 years (as per the Federal Bureau of investigation’s efforts to Combat Crimes Against Children). Not just that. These children are then sold an average of 15 times a day, 6 days a week, totaling 14,040 sex acts a year – making this a $9.8 billion industry.
Little wonder then that this problem is so acute and how this shadowy industry is flourishing despite its despicable deeds. There is clearly a lack of political will and some very powerful forces behind this unholy crime. However, Miller doesn’t delve deeper into this but keeps her focus on the stories of the survivors. She also includes some voices from activists and law enforcement officers who have been doing amazing work and bringing positive results.
The documentary flows seamlessly from one story to another. These stories indeed highlight how a child can be exploited regardless of ethnicity or financial background. Each story has a unique yet very relatable problem. And it’s heart wrenching how these survivors escaped and restarted their life showing immense resilience and overcoming the impossible. These are truly stories of grit, determination and a will to survive against all odds. As most of them have now turned warriors against this epidemic and are fighting for the rights of victims worldwide. That said, the documentary doesn’t really explore the problem of the exploitation of boys and remains focused on girls.
However, overall, this is a relevant documentary on an uncomfortable yet very important aspect of our society. It’s commendable the way these women have come forward to tell their stories. We truly wish more people watch this documentary that throws light on a malicious crime that needs more concerted efforts and awareness to be eradicated altogether.