By Dr. Michael Meehan, Executive Director
November 16, 2015
I attended two day of training last week at the 2015 MCCA Conference at Lake of the Ozarks. The training focused on human trafficking, with special emphasis on the commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC). Despite some familiarity with the topic and over 25 years doing this work, the information was absolutely horrifying (and I can’t unlearn it). Here’s just a few key statistics:
- 48 hours (the average amount of time it takes for a runaway to be found by a “recruiter,” whose job it is to locate victims and turn them over to the trafficker.
- Human trafficking is the second most lucrative criminal endeavor in the world and in the U.S. in particular (drugs is number one). Although the latest figures are almost certainly a gross underestimate of the problem, given that it is so effectively hidden from view, human trafficking pulls in at least $150 billion per year worldwide.
- The U.S. is the number one customer worldwide for trafficked human beings (i.e., slaves). Worldwide, most trafficking is for labor, but sex trafficking is huge business.
- 83% of sex trafficking in the U.S. involves American citizens buying and selling other American citizens. The most vulnerable groups are runaways and foster youth, but people of all walks of life, predominantly women, are at risk.
- 800,000 children are reported missing every year in the U.S.
- One of the presenters at the conference was a survivor. She was tricked by a recruiter within three minutes of arriving at Union Station in Chicago. Within 24 hours, she was beaten, brutally gang raped, and prostituted (this continued until she escaped a bit more than a year later). Most do not escape.
- The other presenter participated with the FBI in learning about dangers on the internet. Posing as an 11 year old girl in a seemingly innocuous game chatroom (she picked the profile and the chatroom herself), she was contacted by 20 strangers in her first three minutes on line. Within five minutes of chatting with only one of these persons, she was asked for a picture and received a picture of an adult male’s genitals.
If, like me, you’re horrified, my work is done. The more people who know about the problem, the better. I am hoping to secure some training for my staff sometime in the next several months. I’d love for all of you to participate.