The recent surge of undocumented children entering the United States has brought up several issues, one of which is human trafficking. With so many minors coming in unaccompanied, many are worried that the children will become victims of this growing problem. Although slavery seems to be a thing of the past, the number of trafficked humans is much larger than it was centuries ago and continues to rapidly increase worldwide. Part of the problem is lack of awareness and the disbelief that slavery could occur, especially in the Western world. “No country is immune,” warns the United Nations, “whether as a source, a destination or a transit point for victims of human trafficking.”
Although the exact number of victims is unknown, researchers estimate the amount of trafficked people to be between 12.3-25 million worldwide. Some are forced into unpaid labor, working in dangerous conditions for little to no pay. Others become victims of sexual exploitation, forced to become prostitutes and earn money for a pimp. Unsurprisingly, the biggest motive for trafficking humans is money. According to experts, the total market value of human trafficking is $32 billion, with nearly a third of that amount coming from the actual sale of victims (United Nations).
Trafficking in the United States
Despite the official abolishing of slavery in 1865, thousands of people are still trafficked within the United State’s borders. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, nearly 300,000 children become victims of sexual exploitation alone. Many of them are runaways or were abducted from their homes. One in three teens are lured into prostitution within 48 hours of leaving home (National Runaway Hotline). And once a child or teenager is trafficked, especially across country or state borders, it can become much more difficult to find them .
Even though the outlook seems grim, many non-profit organizations and government agencies have begun to battle this epidemic. Recently, the FBI rescued nearly 170 child victims of sex trafficking and arrested 281 pimps (CBS News). Many of these children were never even reported missing, and could very well still be on the streets if not for the FBI’s crackdown. The Bureau’s Innocence Lost program has identified and recovered almost 3,600 children who were victims of sexual exploitation since its start in 2003.
Hiring a Private Investigator
Despite the efforts of the FBI and other agencies, around 2,300 people still go missing in the United States each day (Crime Library). Because the amount of missing persons cases is so high, many families choose to look for outside help. A private investigator will work with the family and friends of a missing person and help generate leads for law enforcement. Private eyes have the time and resources to focus on a specific case, and those that have experience finding missing children know what signs to look for. “What is the PI going to do that the police won’t? He is going to keep on searching,” says Jerrie Dean of Missing Persons of America. “He is getting paid to find the person, not the reason they left.”
According to Dean, hiring a private investigator can help even if the person isn’t found right away. “He brings that information back to the family, the family tells the media, the media reports it and then the police are renewed and following a new lead to [the victim],” says Dean. Part of the problem with missing persons cases is publicity. Too often, the media only broadcasts photos of missing people that will gain the most viewers, and eventually the attention peters out. Keeping a case alive can be the driving force in finding a missing person.