The Internet and Child Sex Trafficking in the Twin Tiers

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“We are not seeing a lot of it here, but we are also asking ourselves are we just not seeing it and need to look deeper,” Jennifer Yannette with Children and Family Services said. 

Recent data shows it’s happening in every community, in every state.

“It’s not like we see in the movies where people are taken to other countries or taken across borders, it’s really most simply defined as the exchange of goods…housing, food, clothing, and personal items in exchange for sex,” Yannette said. 

Sex trafficking is the fastest growing criminal enterprise in the world. That’s according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. 

Here in our community, it sometimes helps to pay for a parent’s addiction to drugs. 

“Parents are engaging in inappropriate behavior that is leading to their children becoming victims. Whether for the exchange of money or drugs, in exchange of inappropriate photographs, child pornography of their own children for said favors for those individuals,” Dina O’ Herron with the Children Advocacy Center said. 

The internet is also helping to spread the dangers of child sex trafficking to every corner of the country and beyond. 

There’s even websites that allegedly allow craigslist type ads for sex with minors. Local law enforcement is working to educate students about the dangers of posting or answering such ads.   

“They’ll advertise afternoon delight, quickie, Amber Alert, or cheerleader, and that will differentiate between a juvenile and adult,” Chemung County Undersheriff Bill Schrom said. 

One of these sites, backpage.com, has recently been shut down by the FBI after repeated accusations that it enabled prostitution and sex trafficking of minors.

That site made 135 million dollars in 2014. Sites like these are making it easier to lure children into dangerous situations.

“Her parents were in fact trying to find her, there was a missing report out, and she was located in a local hotel involved in a sex trafficking situation where she was being offered the promise of a better life and the promise of things in exchange for these favors,” Yannette said. 

Even the most innocent of moves online can lead to very dangerous consequences. 

“Parents who are posting pictures of their kids because they are in the bathtub bathing and look how cute my child is, and if some perpetrator gets a hold of that they may do really inappropriate and lewd acts to those pictures so it’s really important for parents to be conscientious of that stuff unfortunately that’s the sad society we live in and it makes it difficult for parents to then be able to share that information but safety should always come first,” O’ Herron said. 

If you or anyone you know suspects child abuse of any kind, contact the authorities immediately. 

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