What Is Child Trafficking?
Child trafficking shares a similar definition to human trafficking. It is the act of transporting and exploiting children for various — often malicious — purposes.
Some of the ways children get exploited through human trafficking include slave labor, as well as sexual exploitation.
Child trafficking has become of great concern over the last few years. Despite various crackdowns and government interventions, trafficking is a growing problem across the world.
In 2012 the number of trafficking victims was around 20.9 million. Since then, the number has almost doubled, with a global count of human trafficking victims now reaching 40.3 million.
Stopthetraffic.org has also reported that around 25% of all trafficking victims around the world are children — an estimated 10.1 million. Of these children trafficked by criminal gangs, 37% were forced into marriage. 21% (212,100) are thought to have been victims of sexual exploitation.
The figures are horrific. It’s almost hard to believe for most people that human trafficking is such a big problem in this day and age. However, trafficking gangs are still able to take advantage of vulnerable people — especially kids — transporting them worldwide through an underground criminal network for exploitation.
Although trafficking gangs can initiate children into a world of exploitation in many different circumstances, some people are now speculating if welfare services are corrupt or failing to protect vulnerable children from becoming victims of trafficking.
Child Protective Services: Failing To Stop Trafficking?
This is a worrying prospect — the thought of Child Protective Services (CPS) failing to protect children from the dangers of trafficking is sickening.
However, many statistics are now showing that CPS are falling short of their duty to protect children — who have often been neglected previously.
The system seems to carry many flaws. In 2018, the NCMEC (National Center for Missing and Exploited Children) found that out of over 23,500 reported runaway children — usually running from care homes — nearly 15% were likely victims of sex trafficking.
A report looking into child sex trafficking and the child welfare system, conducted by the Department of Children and Families in Connecticut, found that of 88 children rescued from child sex trafficking in the state, 86 of them were involved with child protection services before being exploited.
An investigation led by the state of New York also discovered that nearly 85% of child trafficking victims had previously been involved with child welfare services.
These figures clearly show the dire state of the child welfare system — it’s failing children at almost every angle.
But what of South Carolina DSS? According to the FBI, more than half of trafficked children in America were in the care of social services when they disappeared. That is a damning statistic for a system whose sole purpose is to keep children safe.
In recent months other news outlets have reported numerous cases of child trafficking in South Carolina. Some of these individuals who were charged with this horrific crime were teachers, social workers and even pastors. This goes to show that traffickers are not bound by social status in the communities or governments.
In December 2019 The Post and Courier ran an article concerning children in the South Carolina Foster Care System. A startling fact showed the number of children in the system and the homes available.
Is it hard to believe that some if not many of these children in displaced homes will be trafficked?
The Department of Social Services takes more children out of parental homes for opinion based reasons using such wordings as we believe or we think. All this prior to any evidential investigations being conducted. And then places these children in homes where foster parents are paid per child.
The current rate for standard care in South Carolina as of July 1, 2019 is $16.67 per day for newborns to children 5 years old, $17.43 per day for children between the ages of 6 and 12, and $19.63 per day for children between the ages of 13 and 20, according to care2foster.org.
Now lets take a look at the definition of Child Trafficking again: It is the act of transporting and exploiting children for various — often malicious — purposes.
Another way of looking at the legalization of child trafficking is taking children from loving parents and selling them for adoption for financial gain to the state.
Here is a recent notice from Kershaw County:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Follow us on Twitter: @USAO_SC
Derek A. Shoemake
Assistant U.S. Attorney
Blythewood Man Arrested and Charged with Nine Counts of Human Trafficking and Three Counts of Narcotics Violations
Columbia, South Carolina — United States Attorney Peter M. McCoy, Jr., announced today that Brian Leroy Watson, Jr., a/k/a “B,” a/k/a “Lil B,” 48, of Blythewood, was arrested on a federal indictment charging nine counts of human trafficking and attempted human trafficking and three counts of drug-related violations. The arrest and charges are a result of a collaborative effort among the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Richland County Sheriff’s Department, and the Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office.
“While the record in this case speaks for itself, human trafficking is an egregious crime that often targets the most vulnerable among us for the profit of another,” said U.S. Attorney McCoy. “It is a dark reality even here in South Carolina, and this office will not tolerate it. That is why we work not only with our law enforcement partners to uncover and prosecute those who exploit others, but with support groups within the community that offer support services to human trafficking victims and educate the public about this unconscionable practice.”
“Operations like these result in the release of human trafficking victims from their horrifying bondage,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Jody Norris. “The FBI thanks the Richland County Sheriff’s Department and the Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office for their assistance in this investigation. We ask that anyone with information about human trafficking contact the FBI or their local law enforcement office.”
“Human Sex Trafficking is a reality in our community,” said Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott. “Working in partnership with other law enforcement agencies and most important, the community, is the key to stopping this horrible crime.”
“We are very thankful for the teamwork of our federal partners in keeping our community safe,” said Kershaw County Sheriff Lee Boan. “As a reminder to parents, kidnapping is not always involved in human trafficking cases. Victims can be coerced into human trafficking by their dependency of basic needs or addiction to drugs. Holding your child close to you while in a crowded place is not always as important as knowing what your child does when they are away from you.”
The 12-count indictment alleges human trafficking violations against Watson as to multiple victims between 2016 and 2019 in South Carolina. The indictment also charges Watson with distributing heroin and fentanyl, and with unlawfully operating a Blythewood dwelling for the purpose of storing and distributing heroin, fentanyl, cocaine, crack cocaine, and methamphetamine. Watson was arrested on August 20, 2020, and had his initial appearance before United States Magistrate Judge Shiva V. Hodges at the Matthew J. Perry Courthouse in Columbia.
This case is being investigated by the FBI, the Richland County Sheriff’s Department and the Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Elliott B. Daniels of the Columbia Office.
U.S. Attorney McCoy stated that all charges in this case are merely allegations at this stage and that the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Child Trafficking can happen anywhere and by anyone.
Many people in the United States are speaking out about cases involving DSS/CPS personnel who are/were involved in them being sold to buyers.
If you or someone you know may have information relevant to this investigation, please call FBI-Columbia at 803-551-4200.