Child trafficking involves the coercion, recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring, and/or receipt of children for the purpose of exploitation. This can involve sexual abuse, money, forced labor, drug smuggling, or other forms of abuse.
Child trafficking is prevalent in every country around the world, including the USA. It’s estimated to be a $150 BILLION dollar a year industry. It’s the fastest-growing and 2nd largest criminal enterprise on the planet.
It has been reported in every state and major city. Every year hundreds of thousands of children are recruited from and transported to and through the USA for trafficking.
Child trafficking can happen to any child, regardless of race, gender, education, citizenship, and socio-economic status.
Most people think of child trafficking as children bound and beaten in hidden bunkers in 3rd world countries. While that is a reality for many children around the world, many people don’t realize that child trafficking is rampant in the USA, and that the victims and perpetrators may be right in front of them.
Child predators use a process called “grooming” to coerce the child into submission. This can happen gradually with promises of a better life, financial gain, protection, fame, or other attractive offers.
The predator will assume a position of power and authority in order to gain trust and unsupervised access to the child. This may be a stranger, but most often it’s someone the child knows, such as a teacher, counselor, coach, religious leader, boy scout leader, family member, or friend.
Predators will target vulnerable children from abusive households or broken families who are often unsupervised and easily manipulated. Once the predator gains the child’s trust, they will use psychological, emotional, and physical abuse to ensure the child is submissive.
Whether it’s for financial gain, survival, threats, persuasion, or false promises, some parents willingly give or sell their child. As unthinkable as it sounds, some parents believe the traffickers will give the child a better life, opportunities, or protection. Some parents are so abusive that they allow others to abuse their child for the parent’s financial gain.
In many cases the parents are negligent and oblivious to what’s happening with their child, whether or not the parents are the instigator or have knowledge of the abuse.
In some cases, parents get wrapped up in a religious organization or cult that requires them to give up their child and/or allow them to be abused.
Most reported trafficking cases were instigated by the child’s family member(s) or family friend(s).
“More than 90% of juvenile sexual abuse victims know their perpetrator in some way.”
- Vermont Department for Children and Families
Children who are forcibly taken from their homes or parents, live on the streets, or who become “lost” in the foster care or CPS systems are prime victims for trafficking.
Unfortunately, since many children are never reported missing, there is no reliable way to determine the total number of children who are actually missing in the U.S.
When a child is reported missing to law enforcement, federal law requires that child be entered into the FBI’s National Crime Information Center, also known as NCIC. According to the FBI, in 2020 there were 365,348 NCIC entries for missing children*. In 2019, the total number of missing children entries into NCIC was 421,394.
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Unfortunately, the truth about child trafficking is intentionally suppressed and censored.
Some reasons include:
· Programs and therapy that help survivors heal and redesign their lives
Be able to provide as many details as possible, including what you saw, the individuals involved, make/model of vehicle(s), license plate number, business name and/or location, date, time, and why it is suspicious.
You can also submit a tip to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at: 800-843-5678, or by reporting an incident on their Cyber Tip Line.
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