The grim reality of human trafficking is that more communities are being forced to deal with it each day. A parent’s priority is to keep their children safe, and the increasing reports of human trafficking in previously safe communities have many families worried.
Parents have always held their children close, but parents in St. Petersburg, FL are now keeping their kids closer after horrific news of child sex abuse. On January 14, 2019, five Floridians were arrested for human trafficking. Four of those arrested were also charged with sexually battering a child under the age of 16. Reports state that a 17-year-old child who was reported missing was discovered and removed from the residence circa May 2018. Police also found a 16-year-old boy who had reportedly been kept a prisoner in the sex traffickers’ trailer and was the victim of sexually sadomasochistic games. Both children involved have received treatment, and the perpetrators are in custody, but for many victims, the possibility for healing may never come. Over 40 million people are victims of human trafficking across the globe which makes human trafficking a shocking issue for everyone, everywhere.
The definition of what human trafficking is, despite the terms frequent use, is often misunderstood by most people. Human trafficking is slavery in the modern world. It is the use of physical force, coercion/blackmail or lies and fraudulent information to trap someone into unpaid labor or commercial sex work. A trafficked person does not necessarily need to be taken elsewhere or removed from their family, they can be a prisoner within their own homes. The fact is that these horrible acts can and do happen in our own communities, just like in St. Petersburg, and they can remain unnoticed for years.
The wrong set of circumstances could lead to anyone becoming a victim of this heinous crime; however, specific populations are far more vulnerable to human trafficking. The homeless, runaway teens and those from difficult family backgrounds frequently fall prey to these situations. They can be solicited online by “sympathetic” adults through seemingly innocent social media and chat services. Children who are part of the foster system or who have lived in group homes are also statistically more vulnerable to being trafficked. The disabled and mentally handicapped also fall in the category of frequently exploited peoples.
One of the essential roles of a parent is being present in all aspects of a child’s life and, especially when they are juveniles, being aware of whom they are communicating with online and off. If your child starts to withdraw, investigate - never assume it’s a phase and will pass.
Educate your children about sex trafficking in an age-appropriate way. Make sure they know what to look out for, that if something looks or feels wrong, they should get away from the situation as soon as possible.
Human trafficking is an unsettling crime, and all perpetrators must be stopped. If you or someone you love has been a victim of human trafficking, seeking help from an experienced attorney is the first step in attaining justice. KBA Attorneys is committed to fighting injustices perpetrated against trafficking victims by holding the appropriate parties accountable.
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