In honor of the fact that President Donald J. Trump designated January as Human Trafficking month, a report from the Washington, D.C. area was published on Tuesday identifying children most likely to be targeted by human traffickers. The warning extends throughout the rest of the country and even the world. Human trafficking — otherwise known as slavery — is taking place all around us.
Human traffickers and pimps go after the most vulnerable people in American society. This means that children who have been abused, abandoned or otherwise neglected by the adults in their lives are at the highest risk to become victims of human trafficking.
In 2016, an estimated 1 out of 6 endangered runaways reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children were likely child sex trafficking victims.
- Of those, 86% were in the care of social services or foster care when they ran.
“Kids in the justice system or foster care system are very disproportionately at risk for trafficking compared with the general population of children,” said Rob Marus, in the Office of the District’s Attorney General.
He told reporters that there are currently two lawyers in the office dedicated to the task of identifying kids who may be at risk through their cases in the justice and family services systems.
“They work with colleagues in other branches of government with D.C. police, schools and others, to review cases on a regular basis to identify potential signs of trafficking and connect those kids to what they need to get through,” Marus said.
They are also training kids as young as middle school age to recognize the signs of human trafficking and teaching them how to protect themselves.
“We want to bust through any misconceptions that kids, or adults who take care of them, have about what trafficking looks like,” Marus said, noting that predators are able to connect with children when they pretend to care about them.
“Kids can be vulnerable to it because they think someone actually cares about them — someone who they think of as a boyfriend, or an authority figure who they trust, can lead them into trafficking before they know what’s going on,” he said.