Human traffickers prey on the vulnerable. Children whose parents are going through a divorce are vulnerable.
What is human trafficking? It is when someone knowingly holds, entices, harbors, transports, provides or obtains by any means another person to engage in sexual activity or to provide labor or services.
• It is estimated that 1 million children are exploited by the global commercial sex trade every year. (U.S. Department of State, The Facts About Child Sex Tourism: 2005)
• 244,000 American children and youth were estimated to be at risk of child sexual exploitation, including commercial sex exploitation, in 2000. (Estes, Richard J. and Neil A. Weiner. The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. The University of Pennsylvania School of Social Work: 2001. Study funded by the Department of Justice. )
• 12 – 14 years is the average age of entry into prostitution. (Estes, Richard J. and Neil A. Weiner. The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. The University of Pennsylvania School of Social Work: 2001.)
• It is estimated that there will be 25,000 human trafficking crimes during the months surrounding the Super Bowl (from Valerie Huttle, NJ Assemblywoman 6/14/13 conference).
This is so important it bears repeating – children that are susceptible to human trafficking are children who are vulnerable. Children whose parents are going through a divorce are especially vulnerable. Traffickers entice their victims with promises of family and love. Children who perceive that their family life is coming apart at the seams, who believe that their parents’ divorce is their fault or believe that one parent no longer loves them, can be prime targets.
The traffickers recruit the children through a number of means including social media chat rooms, hanging out at malls and even through other family members and friends. If your child suddenly has an older “new best friend” or “boyfriend”, check it out. You can log on to www.njhumantrafficking.gov for additional information on the signs someone is a victim of human trafficking or call the New Jersey Human Trafficking Hotline if you believe your child or anyone else you know is a victim. The toll free telephone number is 1-855-363-6548.