Children are vulnerable to the ills of our society. One growing issue that plagues children from all backgrounds is human trafficking. There are an estimated 2 to 4 million victims annually with roughly 50% of them being kids.
Operation Cross Country X is an international effort between the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). Last week the FBI announced a sweeping operation targeting sex traffickers nationwide.
In just three days of work over 80 children were rescued and 239 pimps arrested in an effort that involved 71 local and state task forces in 106 cities. Fifty-five FBI field offices were involved in the effort.
Officers in Houston, Texas, recognized a 15-year-old from an Internet ad and stepped in to rescue her from performing a sex act. The youngest child recovered from the operation was just 13 years old.
During an parallel operation in Cambodia, the Philippines, and Thailand there were a total of 25 children rescued with the youngest being two years old. Sixteen children were rescued in Canada.
FBI Director James Comey explained the mission of Operation Cross Country:
Operation Cross Country aims to shine a spotlight into the darkest corners of our society that seeks to prey on the most vulnerable of our population. As part of this effort, we are not only looking to root out those who engage in the trafficking of minors, but, through our Office of Victim Assistance, we offer a lifeline to minors to help them escape from a virtual prison no person ever deserves.
This devastating nightmare is not reserved to a certain community says John Clark, director of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
“This is something that’s happening in communities all across the country,” he said. “We need moms and dads and teachers and neighbors and everybody working hand in hand to try to identify where this situation is happening so that we can bring the right resources to bear to fight child sex trafficking.”
Teaching the dangers and ills of the world to your children begins at home and from an early age. Talk to your children and keep an “open door policy” so they feel comfortable talking to you about anything.