Unaccompanied Minors Run High Risk of Being Trafficked

September 12, 2011
In August of 2011, three teenage girls ages 15 to 16 years old,  from Irving, Texas were reported missing by family members. The girls were together for a sleep-over when, at one point, they decided to go out together. Three days later, they were found locked in a motel room in Orange County, CA. by local police and the FBI.  The girls were being "trained" to work for a human trafficker.

The three minors did not run away from home by choice, they were lured into a sex trafficking scheme by a 26 year old man who invited them to “go to the beach.” The three teen girls did not realize his actual intentions were to start selling them in his sex trafficking ring. Fortunately, they had not yet been sold.  Unfortunately, teens who are not with an adult are an attractive target for traffickers. Traffickers specifically seek out what are known as “unaccompanied minors” because they are easier to manipulate into a situation where the trafficker is in total “control.”
Had the girls been found later than 3 days after disappearing, they would have been forced into prostitution.  The story of missing children found trafficked is not at all uncommon. What is uncommon is the girls returning home safely. More often than not, victims of child sex trafficking do not live to see a happy ending. They remain in the custody of traffickers and are forced to work in the sex trafficking world.

Without the threat of trusted adults around minors, traffickers are more easily able to manipulate and coerce young people into following them to different places. Whether it is reported or not, a child is missing if they are in the custody of a trafficker or predator. Missing children are most at risk of being trafficked. When a child goes missing and no body is found within a few days, there is a high probability that this child has been caught up in human trafficking. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children conservatively estimated that out of the 357,600 victims reported missing each year, at least 100,000 children each year are caught up in the insidious world of child prostitution. 55% of street girls engage in prostitution; 75% work for a pimp. This is a common fate to children who are truant and who runaway in our nation today.

The fact needs to be stated that a child who runs away is usually targeted by a trafficker within the first 48 hours. When you take into account that 12-15 year old children have no ability to find shelter, clothing, or income on their own, you come to the conclusion that they must rely on some adult who is willing to help them. In our nation, traffickers usually come to a child disguised as someone there to help them. Any law abiding citizen would know that a minor who is either missing or is a runaway must be reported to authorities to help return the minor to their family. Traffickers have no interest in helping, but would pretend to do so to assure their opportunity to trap the minors into the life of trafficikng. You can find more about the number of missing children by going to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

If you suspect human trafficking, DO NOT physically intervene.
Call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-3737-888

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