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  • Investigator #9812

Spotting the Unseen: Understanding Child Trafficking and How to Prevent It

Updated: Jan 5

An important note before we get started. Although this is about child trafficking it is crucial to understand that human trafficking is the main issue. Adults and children, male and female get trafficked every day. This blog is about the specifics of child trafficking but all points can be easily related to adult human trafficking as well. There are many resources in your community from law enforcement, trusted community leaders, and private investigators that are always happy to assist you with any questions you have.

Child trafficking is a form of modern slavery that is as complex as it is horrifying. It has overtaken many of the criminal activities in our country and local communities and has even worked itself into local groups and gangs. This blog post seeks to inform the public about the key aspects of child trafficking and how we can prevent it. It is important to understand that a trafficker can be anyone.

They can be male or female and generally present themselves as benevolent figures offering attention, gifts, or a better life. In the end, they are attempting to gain your or your family member's trust. They target individuals or small groups of people indicating family troubles, economic hardship, or forms of social isolation. The key tactic is to cut the victim off from all resources slowly including from family and friends making someone fully dependent on the trafficker. It's important to take from this that human trafficking is not always a snatch-and-grab violent situation. Many times it's from trusted people who have worked themselves into your life.

 

Types of Child Trafficking

Sexual Exploitation

Forced involvement in commercial sexual activities.

Forced Labor

Compelled to work under exploitative conditions.

Organ Trafficking

The illegal trade of organs, often after kidnapping.

 

Important Statistics

  • An estimated 10,000 children are trafficked in the United States each year.

  • Globally, 1.2 million children are trafficked annually.

(Source: UNICEF)


Statistics that hit close to home

As a private investigator in what is known as the upriver community in Skagit County, WA. I want to share some surprising statistics that for me and many others hit close to home.

In our upriver community (Sedro-Woolley - Diablo):

  • There are 60+ child predators.

  • Over 200 physically violent criminals.

  • Over 3,500 children under the age of 18.

  • more than 10 active missing persons

  • Over 12 cold cases

  • An estimated 18 suicides per year (This indicates people in very troubling times that can be targeted.)

  • Over 13,000 families in poverty (Another group of targeted people.)

  • Over 160 domestic violent situations per year.

(Source: Anonymous, verified by KB Tenacious as of January 2024)

The good news is that we have a very strong community that has amazing people in it that watch out for each other and band together in the community's times of need. Many people are involved in several local groups that aim to assist the community and protect it from these hidden dangers.


 

Prevention Strategies!

For Parents

  1. Awareness: Teach children to be cautious around strangers and even acquaintances.

  2. Check-in: Regularly communicate with your children, especially when they are away from home. Use apps such as Life 360 or Find My (on IOS) to keep track of your children and set notifications for when they arrive safely at school or home.


For Schools and Caregivers


1. Identification Training: Train staff to recognize signs of trafficking in children.

  • Withdrawn Behavior: A sudden change in behavior or becoming increasingly isolated.

  • Frequent Absences from School: Unexplained or frequent absences from school or other regular activities.

  • Unexplained Gifts or Possessions: New clothes, electronics, or other high-value items that the child can't explain.

  • Multiple Phones or Social Media Accounts: Use of multiple cell phones or secretive online activity.

  • Older Boyfriends or Girlfriends: Involvement with significantly older individuals who seem to have a controlling influence.

  • Signs of Physical Abuse: Bruises, scars, or other signs of physical abuse that the child cannot satisfactorily explain.

  • Fearful or Paranoid Behavior: Exhibiting extreme fear or paranoia, especially towards authority figures.

  • Inappropriate Sexual Knowledge: Demonstrating an unusual awareness of sexual matters inappropriate for their age.

  • Frequent Travel: Frequent, unexplained trips, often without notice or explanation.

  • Change in Appearance: Drastic changes in appearance, such as clothing and grooming, often aimed at appearing older.

2. Security Measures: Employ CCTV and thorough visitor screening.


For the Community


1. Local Organizations: Partner with organizations working against human trafficking.

2. Report Suspicious Activity: Educate community members on how to identify and report signs of trafficking.

  • Unattended Minors: Children appearing lost, disoriented, or unsupervised in public places.

  • Adult Control: Adults who seem overly controlling or coercive when interacting with children, not allowing them to speak for themselves.

  • Multiple Children, One Adult: An adult accompanied by multiple children who don't appear to be related or who show signs of distress.

  • Frequent New Faces: The regular appearance of new children in the neighborhood who disappear after a short period.

  • Vehicle Surveillance: Unknown vehicles or individuals loitering near schools, parks, or places frequented by children.

  • Limited Social Interaction: Children who are restricted from interacting with others, including peers and neighbors.

  • Expensive Gifts: Children displaying new, costly items such as clothes or electronics without a reasonable explanation.

  • Hotel or Motel Activities: High foot traffic of children or adults at odd hours in hotels or motels.

  • Online Behavior: Unknown adults engaging children in online games, social media platforms, or other online spaces in a suspicious manner.

  • Restricted Movement: Children who are not allowed to move freely, appearing to be monitored or accompanied at all times.

  • Signs of Physical Abuse: Children showing signs of abuse, malnourishment, or neglect.


Digital Safety

  1. Monitor Online Activity: Traffickers often use social media to lure victims.

  2. Geo-Fencing: Use apps that can set geographical boundaries for your child’s device.

 

Child trafficking is an appalling crime that robs children of their innocence and freedom. Through awareness, vigilance, and strategic action, we can contribute to its prevention.


 

Additional Resources


National Helplines:

1. National Human Trafficking Hotline: Provides 24/7 confidential support and a variety of resources.


2. Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline: Provides 24/7 assistance in 170 languages.

  • 📞 Phone: 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453)

  • 🌐 Website: childhelp.org


Websites for Information and Support:

1. Polaris Project: Offers comprehensive data and resources on human trafficking.


2. ECPAT International: Focuses on ending the sexual exploitation of children.


3. Thorn: Utilizes technology to fight child trafficking and the sexual exploitation of children.


Educational Materials:

1. United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC): Provides resources including reports and campaign materials.


2. The U.S. Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report: An annual report that provides a comprehensive assessment of global efforts to combat trafficking.



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