Child trafficking victims. The phrase alone invokes images and situations too devastating to comprehend. We imagine back alleys in far away lands, the underdeveloped and ungoverned backwater areas of the world, areas that are a universe away from the more civilized United States.
But the truth is much different and closer to home than you can imagine. Of the 300,000 children taken globally each year for the sex trafficking industry, 17,000 of those children will be from the United States. They are taken from suburban backyards, busy city streets, and rural areas. They come from families of all income levels, classes, demographics, and religious beliefs. Some of these children may have once shared classes with your own children, played on the same playgrounds, and walked the same trails. Just like cancer, child trafficking knows no socio boundaries.
Common Methods for Trafficking
Methods used for trafficking have evolved with technology. Traffickers no longer have to pursue children on the streets – today, they have found the internet to be an effective tool in finding new victims. These predators know that children are present on nearly all social media networks with limited parental monitoring. Traffickers lie, deceive, and manipulate young people into situations that quickly escalate beyond their control. Traffickers commonly pose as friends, peers, and attractive members of the opposite sex. These predators regularly find new ways to lure our children into unsafe situations where they can immediately be taken and sold into the sex trafficking industry.
Child Trafficking Victims – The Social Media Aspect
Although the internet has become the preferred hunting ground for these predators, they still operate in the public. Many times, they operate in the open, secretly hiding behind the vale of people we should be able to trust. It seems news reports continually prove this point with abusers and traffickers operating from our neighbors’ houses, local businesses, and even schools and churches.
Though we may wish to view this problem as one far removed from us, the solution relies upon us. This is not a problem only highly trained and dedicated professionals can affect. We not only have the power to make a difference, but also a critical responsibility to do so.
Trafficking victims include our neighbors, our friends, and our families – they look like your children. They act like your children. They love many of the same things as your children. But every day, 46 of them will be taken from their families and homes. They will be forced into unimaginable situations. Situations that no child should ever have to witness, let alone endure. These are the children that we help save, the children that we are morally bound to save. Without more support and awareness from the public, 46 children will continue to be taken every single day in the United States. Without more trafficking education for law enforcement, these numbers will continue to grow.