From a young age, we are often told that our family is ours forever. Our parents, our brothers, and sisters—these are people that we are supposed to be able to trust. We may not always get along with our family—who gets along with everyone all the time? —but at the end of the day, even if you get into a fight with your mom, it’s likely she will still have a place set for you at the dinner table.
While this may sound familiar to many of us, it is not the reality for everyone, especially victims of trafficking. In 2016, a 13-year-old and 15-year-old girl were told by the 13-year-old’s sister that they were going to a birthday party. This birthday party turned out to be a tool to lure these young girls into the hotel room of Brian Quincy Bright, who invited men that he called paying customers, over to have sex with the girls. These girls became victims of human trafficking that night.
A 2016 study from the South Carolina Attorney General’s Office showed that a family member is the most reported relationship between a victim and their trafficker or recruiter. The people that they are meant to trust the most betrayed them in one of the worst possible ways. The worst part is that these children often do not have the words to speak up, and if they do, they are too afraid.
A 2016 study from the South Carolina Attorney General’s Office showed that a family member is the most reported relationship between a victim and their trafficker or recruiter.
In an interview with The State, professional counselor Shauna Galloway-Williams says, “They [child victims] may be afraid of what’s going to happen to them or someone they love, especially if it’s a family member who is a sole provider within the family.” For some children, sex, drug use, and abuse is a normal part of their home life—they do not even know to report it.
That is why being able to identify familial trafficking is vital. A trusted adult speaking up can be the difference between a life of pain and freedom for these kids. According to an article by The State, one of the biggest red flags of familial trafficking is when a child alludes to abuse in the home. These are often just surface issues, and it is always worth it to investigate further for the sake of the child. According to Polaris, out of 40.3 million victims of human trafficking in the world, 25% are children. Even one victim of modern slavery is too many, and we must stay vigilant and aware to end child trafficking and all forms of modern slavery.
Written by Julia Lesko