FBI studies indicate that the San Francisco Bay Area is one of the largest hubs of sex trafficking in the United States. Nearly half a million children go missing each year in our country most presumed to be victims of sex trafficking. Here, in our community, children are commodities in the fastest-growing business of organized crime in the world. Unlike drugs, a child can be sold over and over again.
All youth are vulnerable to sex traffickers, but those who have already endured trauma foster children or those running from abusive homes become especially easy prey. Many are not reported missing or are reported as “runaways,” meaning there is no urgent search to nd them. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, less than 1% of these children are rescued. The few who are seldom testify against their perpetrators for fear of retribution. Without the victim’s testimony, the perpetrator often remains free to traumatize and ruin the lives of other innocent girls.
Organizations, such as the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and Polaris, provide hundreds of thousands of “tips” to law enforcement each year. Unfortunately, these time-sensitive tips often land and stay in file folders as our nation’s law enforcement is vastly underfunded and generally reacts to crimes in progress rather than proactively searching for a crime.