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Child Trafficking Victims: Who Are They?

Child Trafficking Victims

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 idyllic 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.

As the world has changed, so too have the methods traffickers use to lure children. Whereas traffickers had to venture out into the community to find and pursue their young prey in the past, now the internet provides them with an effective tool that allows them to do their terrible work from the shadows. These predators know that children are comfortable on all sorts of social media networks, often without any parental monitoring. They are easily able to lie, deceive, and manipulate young people into situations from which there is no escape. The traffickers even pose as friends, other young people, or attractive members of the opposite sex. They are practiced experts and regularly find new ways to lure our children into unsafe situations where they can 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 physical space around us as well. 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.

The child trafficking victims taken each day belong to 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 today, 46 of them will be taken from their homes and forced into unspeakable situations. This is something that no child should ever have to witness, let alone endure. These are the children that we can help save, the children that we are morally bound to save. Without the diligence, support and awareness of people all over the country, 46 children will continue to be taken every single day in the United States. It starts with us…