First Presenter's Institution

University of South Carolina

Second Presenter's Institution

University of South Carolina

Third Presenter's Institution

N/A

Fourth Presenter's Institution

N/A

Fifth Presenter's Institution

N/A

Location

Session 5 Breakouts

Strand #1

Hands: Safety & Violence Prevention

Strand #2

Health: Mental & Physical Health

Relevance

This presentation is relevant to the “Hand” strand because it contributes to the understanding of the red flags and risk factors of child sex trafficking. It provides knowledge and tool for law enforcement officers to better identify 1) high risk children and refer them to appropriate community resources so as to prevent them from becoming a victim of the severe crime and 2) child victims of sex trafficking to prevent further victimization.

This presentation also relates to the “Health” strand because it provides knowledge to law enforcement for the purpose of protecting vulnerable children from the physical and mental trauma related to child sex trafficking. Victims of sex trafficking often suffer from severe mental health issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), sexually transmitted diseases/infections (STD/STI), and physical trauma from beatings and other forms of violence (Raymond & Hughes, 2001; The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, 2014).

Brief Program Description

Sex trafficking is severely oppressing children in South Carolina, in part due to the difficulty in identifying victim and potential victims. This presentation reveals findings of red flags and risk factors identified from the analysis of runaway and incorrigible incident reports collected from local law enforcement agencies in South Carolina. Applications of the findings will be discussed.

Summary

Sex trafficking as a type of human trafficking and a modern slavery is severely oppressing children in South Carolina. Runaway children and children with serious family conflicts are especially vulnerable to the crime. The instability, vulnerability, and need for familial security creates opportunities for traffickers to reach out, bond with the children, and use those relationships to initiate sex activities for financial gains (Shared Hope International, 2008). Challenges in identifying victims and high risk children of sex trafficking exist due to the lack of data on the prevalence and dynamics of child sex trafficking in South Carolina. The purpose of this project is to increase understanding of red flags and risk factors through analyzing runaway and incorrigible incident reports collected from local law enforcement agencies. A total of 1,520 reports from 2016 and 2017 were included in the analysis. Data collected from the incident reports included case information, child subject information, and red flags and risk factors of child sex trafficking. The red flags and risk factors were selected from existing tools such as the Human Trafficking Identification Template (Small, Morales, & Hefner, 2015).

Of the 1,520 reports, 54 reports were flagged as containing red flags and/or risk factors of sex trafficking. The primary red flags/risk factors identified among the flagged incident reports were incidents involving other individuals, child traveled to another city or state, child had an offense history, child experienced family conflict, child was placed in foster care or DSS custody, child had mental health problems, and child was recovered in a hotel. Data of the project suggested the co-existence of multiple red flags/risk factors in flagged reports.

Results of the analysis urged further investigation of the cases with red flags of child sex trafficking and follow-up with children at risk of sex trafficking to refer them to appropriate community resources. More training and tools should be provided to law enforcement to identify and report red flags and risk factors of child sex trafficking in reports. More data is still needed to further test the findings of this analysis and examine the prevalence of red flags and risk factors of child sex trafficking in South Carolina.

Evidence

Nationally, children sex trafficking has been reported in all 50 U.S. states (National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, n.d.a). In 2019, of the more than 23,500 endangered runaways reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, one in six were likely victims of child sex trafficking (National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, n.d.b). In South Carolina, according to the National Human Trafficking Hotline Statistics, 156 human trafficking cases were reported in South Carolina involving 82 potential child victims in 2018. Of the human trafficking cases reported, 107 or 68% cases were sex trafficking, which represented a 22% increase from 2017 (The South Carolina Human Trafficking Task Force, 2019). However, due to difficulty in identifying victims (Dank, Yahner, Yu, Vasquez-Noriega, Gelatt, & Pergamit, 2017; Shared Hope International 2008), the actual number of cases is believed to be higher. Therefore, efforts of this project have been greatly supported by law enforcement agencies and child serving stakeholders in South Carolina.

In 2017, we first piloted the data project with a local law enforcement agency to identify high risk children of sex trafficking and associated risk factors. Findings of the pilot project contributed to the understanding of the high risk children of sex trafficking in the local area and were used to help follow up with high risk children of sex trafficking and train officers in the agency. The agency commented that this project was “right on point.” This pilot project was also recognized and supported by the South Carolina Joint Citizens and Legislative Committee on Children. The Committee was created by statute to offer policy and legislative recommendations to the Governor and Legislature. The South Carolina Human Trafficking Task Force also supported this project. The Task Force recommended actions of collecting local data on child sex trafficking and better equipping law enforcement with knowledge and tools to identify victims and high risk children of sex trafficking. This project strived to contribute to the implementations of these recommendations.

Built on this pilot study, we were awarded a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice through the South Carolina Department of Public Safety to expand the project efforts, aiming to provide knowledge and tools for law enforcement to better identify and respond to high risk and child victims of sex trafficking. With the tremendous support from the various stakeholders as described above, this grant project was recognized as an “worthy investment” in an article titled Living Outside the Rule of Law: The Data on Department of Justice Human Trafficking Prosecutions and Where We Go from Here (Daniels, 2019, p.181). The article was published in the Department of Justice Journal of Federal Law and Practice and was written by an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of South Carolina. This recognition has motivated the grant project to continue its efforts in providing knowledge and tools of child sex trafficking for law enforcement officers in South Carolina.

References

Daniels, E. B. (2019). Living outside the Rule of Law: The Data on Department of Justice Human Trafficking Prosecutions and Where We Go from Here. Department of Justice Journal of Federal Law and Practice, 67, 169-190.

Dank, M., Yahner, J., Yu, L., Vasquez-Noriega, C., Gelatt, J., & Pergamit, M. (2017). Pretesting a Human Trafficking Screening Tool in the Child Welfare and Runaway and Homeless Youth Systems. Washington, DC: Urban Institute. Retrieved from https://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/publication/93596/pretesting_tool_1.pdf

National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. (n.d.a). By the Numbers. Retrieved from http://www.missingkids.com/theissues/trafficking#bythenumbers

National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. (n.d.b). Child Sex Trafficking in America A Guide for Child Welfare Professionals. Retrieved from http://www.missingkids.com/content/dam/pdfs/NCMEC%20CST%20fact%20sheet_CWPProfessionals.pdf

Raymond, J. & Hughes, D. (2001). Sex Trafficking of Women in the United States: International and Domestic Trends. New York, N.Y.: Coalition Against Trafficking in Women. https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/187774.pdf

Shared Hope International. (2008). Identification of domestic minor sex trafficking victims and their access to services. Retrieved from http://sharedhope.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Dallas_PrinterFriendly2.pdf

Small, M., Morales, A., & Hefner, T. (2015). Institute on Family and Neighborhood Life, Clemson University. Identifying potential instances of human trafficking: Applying a novel template of indicators to narratives in police incident reports. Retrieved from: http://www.scdps.gov/ohsjp/stats/SpecialReports/Human_Trafficking_Report_20150630_final.pdf

The South Carolina Human Trafficking Task Force. (2018). South Carolina Human Trafficking Task Force 2018 annual report. Retrieved from http://humantrafficking.scag.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/2018-Annual-Report-Final-After-Edits-Feb-2019-01905001xD2C78.pdf

Learning Objectives

Participants will be able to:

Describe red flags and risk factors of sex trafficking among runaway and incorrigible children.

Define child sex trafficking and describe the prevalence of child sex trafficking.

Format

Individual Presentation

Are you willing to present virtually?

1

Biographical Sketch

Sydney Arsenault is an Advanced Standing Master of Social Work student at the University of South Carolina. Sydney has worked with the Children’s Law Center at the University of South Carolina-School of Law as a research assistant since June of 2019. While in this position, she has assisted with several tasks, including collecting, analyzing, and presenting runaway data from local law enforcement agencies, conducting statistical analysis of cross-agency longitudinal datasets, and creating a statewide standardized training curriculum for law enforcement. Sydney plans to graduate with her MSW in May of 2021 and practice as a social worker advocating for marginalized populations.

Keyword Descriptors

Child Sex Trafficking, Law Enforcement, Identification

Presentation Year

2021

Start Date

3-9-2021 11:25 AM

End Date

3-9-2021 12:25 PM

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Mar 9th, 11:25 AM Mar 9th, 12:25 PM

Identifying Red Flags and Risk Factors of Child Sex Trafficking among Runaway and Incorrigible Children in South Carolina

Session 5 Breakouts

Sex trafficking is severely oppressing children in South Carolina, in part due to the difficulty in identifying victim and potential victims. This presentation reveals findings of red flags and risk factors identified from the analysis of runaway and incorrigible incident reports collected from local law enforcement agencies in South Carolina. Applications of the findings will be discussed.