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  • Writer's pictureGrace Episcopal Church

Human Trafficking Close To Home

Human trafficking happens right here in Marion County. What most people think they know about trafficking involves stories of children being kidnapped by strangers, forced into windowless vans, then driven to another city or state where they are kept drugged and chained in a brothel.

While situations like these do exist, they are more of an exception than the rule. A study analyzing press releases and online media reports from over a nine year period found that fewer than 10 percent of cases involved kidnapping. The danger of these misconceptions is that it prevents us from recognizing the much more common dangers.

You may have seen in the news last month that a Marion County couple was arrested and charged with sex trafficking of two minor girls. This heartbreaking case is an example of how almost all child sex trafficking occurs in the US. The victims were identified by “inappropriate text messages” between the 45 year old man and the 12-16 year old girls. While details of the case are not public, it is clear that the children were not kidnapped nor were they being held prisoner.

Traffickers “groom” their victims over time, befriending them so that the trafficker is no longer a stranger, but someone the victim knows and even trusts. With this trust in place, traffickers don’t need to kidnap their victims. They can convince them to show up willingly.

There are some excellent resources to help protect your child or a child you may know at Polaris, a non-profit that hosts the National Human Trafficking Hotline and provides valuable education. Baylor University offers an on-line resource for talking to your kids about human trafficking.

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