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News | Jan. 24, 2017

Common social media applications target victims of Human Trafficking

By Security and Emergency Services DLA Installation Support at Richmond

In July 2014, The Huffington Post wrote an astonishing article “70 Percent of Child Sex Trafficking Victims Are Sold Online

According to the Department of Justice and the National Center for Missing and exploited Children, at least 105,000 children are sexually exploited annually. Human traffickers are using social media/social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Snap Chat, Instagram, dating sites, and Craigslist at an alarming rate to work methodically by gaining trust or offers of promising futures and wealth to lure unsuspecting victims into an underground world of crime that includes forced labor and prostitution.  It is believed that this growing underground industry generates $32 billion annually, according to the Huffington Post article.

President Barack Obama on Dec 28, 2016 proclaimed January 2017 as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month to bring awareness to aide in the prevention and detection of forced labor and forced prostitution. 

Understanding the dangers of this growing industry, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is developing a new program “Memex” which establishes internet search technologies to aide in finding online perpetrators that are sometimes very difficult to target using traditional search tools.

Guy Simmons, security specialist, Security and Emergency Services, Defense Logistics Agency Installation Support at Richmond, Virginia, encourages employees, family, and friends to be proactive and aware of the methods and risks associated with social media and internet usage as it potentially applies to Combatting Trafficking in Persons.

DLA employees can seek help for a victim or report potential human trafficking activities if they become involved in or aware of an incident.  Below are avenues to report suspected trafficking of persons and obtain more information:

  • in case of an emergency, always call 911;

  • the National Human Trafficking Resource Center has a national, toll-free hotline, 1-888-373-7888, available to answer calls from anywhere in the country, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year; 

  • the Defense Logistics Agency also has a 24/7 sexual assault prevention and response hotline, 1-800-841-0937, that gives callers the option to speak with someone no matter the time of day or night; and 

  • Defense Supply Center Richmond, Virginia, also has resources within the Family Advocacy Program at (804)279-4337 and a sexual assault response office at (804) 279-1163 to assist victims of trafficking with support services and referrals.

To learn more and increase awareness, individuals can seek additional information and resources through the DOD CTIP Website.