South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson, Chair of the South Carolina Human Trafficking Task Force, released the 2021 Annual Report at the State House today. Task Force leadership joined him for the release, including local, state, and federal law enforcement. The annual report shares data that details the magnitude of human trafficking in South Carolina and efforts underway to combat the crime.
“We saw a 15% increase in the number of victims reported to the National Human Trafficking Hotline,” Attorney General Wilson said. “Additionally, we are seeing a steady increase in the number of children and youth who have been identified by DSS as victims.”
In an effort to prevent South Carolina’s young people from becoming victims of human trafficking, the Attorney General’s Office is kicking off a prevention education initiative in 2022. The initiative will offer year-round opportunities for young people to become more aware of the complexities of the crime. The prevention education program was designed for middle and high schools, youth-serving agencies, faith groups, and child welfare agencies.
“As we seek additional resources to meet the needs of minor victims in our state, we must also try to protect those who have not yet been victimized,” Kathryn Moorehead, Coordinator of the State Task Force said. “The best approach is to educate young people through age appropriate, comprehensive lesson plans.”
The 2021 Annual Report also noted a continued emphasis on labor trafficking, disability inclusion, data collection, and online resources for community members. To access the resource materials or the annual report, please visit the State Task Force website at humantrafficking.scag.gov.
To report an incident or seek victim services, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888-373-7888. The Hotline is confidential and open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
SOUTH CAROLINA HUMAN TRAFFICKING TASK FORCE
2021 ANNUAL REPORT EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
LABOR TRAFFICKING INITIATIVE
Nationwide, labor trafficking is an under discussed and underreported form of human trafficking. The data from the National Hotline reflect a growing need to address labor trafficking in South Carolina. In 2021, the Labor Trafficking Subcommittee created and launched a publicly accessible webinar training on labor trafficking, developed labor trafficking public awareness campaigns, implemented sector-specific labor trafficking trainings, and
increased the collection of labor trafficking data. The Task Force vowed to bolster public awareness and engagement in 2021, and will continue to emphasize the critical need to address labor trafficking in 2022.
TRAFFICKING OF MINORS IN SOUTH CAROLINA
In 2018, legislation passed in South Carolina that changed the definition of abuse and neglect to include minor victims of human trafficking. This resulted in DSS being positioned to provide services to minor victims of human trafficking
regardless of whether or not a parent or guardian was the perpetrator.
Since the passage of the legislation, DSS has developed a screening tool to help staff in identifying and responding to minor victims of this crime. Between January 1st and December 1st of 2021, there were 236 children identified by DSS as victims of human trafficking. Out of these 236 victims, 207 victims were female and 29 were male with 97% of all cases being victims of sex trafficking. In South Carolina, there are currently two residential facilities that house minor female victims with only one of these facilities being operable due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There are current efforts underway to encourage the legislature to dedicate funding towards establishing Acute Care and Resource Centers across South Carolina for minor victims of human trafficking.
PREVENTING HUMAN TRAFFICKING IN SOUTH CAROLINA
The South Carolina Human Trafficking Task Force hired a Human Trafficking Program Coordinator that will be positioned to consistently offer prevention education to middle and high schools and disseminate innovative anti-trafficking training and awareness materials. As there is currently no mandate that requires basic information on sex
trafficking be shared with students, all middle and high school prevention trainings will be done at the request of the schools. The Task Force will also be offering such opportunities to youth serving agencies across the state.