California therapist who abused Latino teenagers shows children shouldn't immigrate alone

Children who have immigrated to the US from Latin American countries already have it tough, adjusting to a new culture and most likely facing a language barrier. But, a recent case illustrates that that's not all they need to fear.  A therapist in California has recently been charged for sexually abusing three young immigrant kids.  

Authorities in Orange County say Victor Salazar was found guilty of four counts against minors and two misdemeanor counts for sexual offense. Salazar first came in contact with the children while working as a case administrator at the institution, Florence Crittenton, which provides shelter for children living without parents, either because they were deported or because the children came to America alone.

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Salazar reportedly abused the minors in his office while the three kids were trying to use his phone to call their families in Latin America. The incidents occurred sometime between May 2007 and February 2008. Salazar's lawyer says any physical contact made with the minors was not meant to sexual.

Ugh. This story makes me sick. These poor, innocent kids are already dealing with being alone in a new country and now they have to worry about creepy adults taking advantage of them? It's horrible and so unfair.

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Plus, the incident showcases an important dilemma: If Latino parents are deported or unable to immigrate, should they still allow their kids to live in the US alone? Which option is more beneficial to the child?

I personally completely understand the desire to give your children a better life in a different country, one where you're hoping they'll face less crime and more opportunity. After all my parents lived away from each other for months before my dad was finally able to join my mom and my sister (I wasn't born yet!) here in the States. Still, I don't know if letting your kids go at it alone is always the better choice, especially when they're minors and not legally able to care for themselves.

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The truth is it's a slippery slope. Parents must grapple with the question of whether it's more dangerous to let them grow in their native Latin American country, many of which are riddled with crime (including the place of my origins, El Salvador) or to send them away by themselves? And what if there simply is no other option?

In any case, this case proves that there clearly needs to be more protection on behalf of these kids, particularly minors. There's no reason they should be taken advantage of this way.

What do you think of the case? Would you ever send your kids to live in another country by themselves?

Image via Jacek.NL/flickr

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