The latest news reports suggest that human trafficking is thriving even with the pandemic. An article in the National Review, says that though calls to hotlines have decreased (likely because teachers who are required to report signs of abuse are limited from teaching in-person), hospitalizations of cases of child abuse are increasing. This trend is in line with expectations, given that the known things to lead children to being vulnerable to trafficking are increasing. These vulnerabilities include: greater economic insecurity, more time spent online, fewer foster families to help provide stable familial support, and heightened feelings of isolation and loneliness.
In fact, both Fox News and CNN have reported on a case in the Los Angeles area where 33 children were recovered in an anti-human trafficking operation. Authorities say that 8 of those children had been sexually exploited by the time of recovery.
Details from the trafficking case include:
- at least two children had been recovered multiple times during the operation because in the interim they, like some others, had returned to the trafficking situation. This lines up with experience that shows trafficking victims don’t always return home. They may not see themselves as victims and may even bond with their traffickers.
- some of the underage victims were arrested for probation violations, robbery, or other misdemeanors. It’s unclear whether these violations occurred during their trafficking situation. It’s also unclear whether their records might be cleared of anything that occurred while trafficked.
- one child was a victim of noncustodial parental kidnapping.
- law enforcement are working with partners to ensure medical care and legal services for the rescued children.