Monday, July 20, 2015

Advocates say children are often victims of human trafficking:


GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Hundreds even thousands of children being sold into human trafficking businesses that spread across the state.

A judge remanded two defendants of a federal child sex trafficking indictment without bail, Friday.
Experts say many of the posts, on websites like backpage and craigslist, involve victims of human trafficking.

"Children will try to tell someone...seven, eight ten times," Sherry Kitchens says.
The director of the Child Advocacy Center Sherry Kitchens says an open ear could bring a child trafficking victim to safety.

"Some situations just ask them - you know - has anyone ever tried to give you something to have sex. or to do a sexual act. money, clothes, hair nails, a place to stay, drugs whatever it is."
The answer, Kitchens believes, may surprise you.

"I think the answer, if we really ask those questions, will be yes to more than we realize."
In the past month, Gainesville residents Michael Hayes, Ranell Carter, Jr. and Tawanda Burkett all arrested for pimping out the same 15-year-old victim.

Kitchens tells TV20 that on average, a runaway will be picked up by a trafficker in less than an hour.
According to court documents, the three defendants forced the victim to have sex with approximately 10 men using drugs to keep her high and unaware of what was happening.

All tools used by traffickers to keep their victims dependent.

"Being forced with consequences if they don't or being addicted to drugs and furthering that drug habit if they don't do it," Alachua County Sheriff's Office spokesperson Art Forgey explains.

"They even teach them how to talk to law enforcement and talk to DCF and deny deny deny so they protect the traffickers," Kitchens adds.

Many of those victims are runaways or foster children.

"The likelihood that they were introduced to a trafficker or found themselves in a situation that they've been trafficked is pretty high."

A statistic, Kitchens says, the community can help lower.

"I encourage the community to really take a look at the children around them and in their lives in their friends lives and pay attention to them because they will talk - children will talk. they need people to talk to."

To learn more about law enforcement efforts to crack down on trafficking, click here.


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