|Online Organizations Thwart Efforts to End Child-Sex Trafficking|
|News Releases - Crime/Courts|
|Written by Ginny Grimsley|
|Thursday, 28 June 2012 14:28|
Activist Offers 4 Ways People Can Aid in the Fight
Child trafficking, particularly for sexual exploitation, has increased dramatically in the United States over the past 15 years, and the numbers of victims continue to rise each year.
“The average age keeps getting younger and younger -- for girls, it’s now 12,” says activist and novelist Heather Huffman (www.heatherhuffman.net), whose newest book, Devil in Disguise, aims to raise awareness of the problem. “The rise of the internet is a huge part of the problem, and society has found no effective way to address it.”
In fact, she says, those who profit from the internet seem determined to thwart safeguards. Social media giant Facebook, she notes, is working on technology that would allow it to circumvent federal law by allowing children 13 and younger to become members. And in June, a website that advertises escort services successfully sued to stop Washington state from enforcing its new law requiring publishers to verify the ages of people in sex ads.
“The law was intended to help prevent trafficking children,” Huffman says. “Other states have similar laws either soon to take effect or in the works, and this ruling threatens that potentially effective preventative measure.”
The plaintiff in the Washington suit was Backpage.com, the second-largest online classified ad service in the country. Such websites, including the biggest, Craigslist, regularly post ads for escort services and the like, Huffman notes. They make it easier than ever for traffickers to appeal to a mass audience for paying customers.
They, along with social media sites where children freely chat and post photos of, and information about, themselves, account for much of the growth in domestic child trafficking, she and others say.
“When we place our children’s pictures on sites like Facebook, or allow them to do so, we’re adding them to a human trafficking catalog,” Huffman says.
Whether you’re a parent, an educator, a law enforcement or another adult who deals with children, she offers these suggestions for helping prevent, recognize and stop the trafficking of children.
“Solving this problem is the responsibility of all adults,” Huffman says. “If you don’t believe it can happen in your family, be aware that runaways are now targeted, on average, within 48 hours of leaving home. And even ‘normal’ kids sometimes get mad and run away, if only for a day. It’s horrifying to imagine the disastrous results a momentary pique of childish temper might have.”
About Heather Huffman
Heather Huffman is a writer, former human relations specialist and mother of three, whose 12-year-old son has started his own group to fight human trafficking, 61 Strong. She is the author of six previous books in the romance fiction genre, including “Throwaway” and its prequel, “Tumbleweed.” A portion of proceeds from sales of “Devil in Disguise” will benefit groups fighting human trafficking.
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