The National Human Trafficking Resource Center has received reports of nearly 15,000 sex-trafficking cases inside the United States since 2007. A discussion to bring awareness to the issue.
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Traynham:The National Human Trafficking Resource Center has received reports of nearly 15,000 sex-trafficking cases inside the United States. That's right. You heard that correctly, folks. 15,000 right here in this country since 2007. Hello, everyone, and welcome to "Comcast Newsmakers." I'm Robert Traynham, and joining me today is Len Pagano. He's the President and CEO of the Safe America Foundation. Hi, Len. Welcome to the program.
Pagano:Good to be here, Robert.
Traynham:I wish I was welcoming you under brighter circumstances. What I just mentioned a few moments ago is absolutely horrific on so many different levels. First and foremost, trafficking in any shape and form anywhere in the world is despicable. But here in this country? I don't think most people would think that that happens here in this country.
Pagano:That's why I'm here to talk about it today -- because this has grown to be an incredibly -- incredible issue at very much an epidemic level. And it's not just limited to major cities. It's all across the country, even smaller communities like Bloomington, Illinois. And the reality is, we're not just talking about teenagers or young women or men in their 20s. We're talking about people as young as 7 or 8 years old. And they're being victimized, first of all, because they're somehow taken from their parents, they're taken from some sort of situation, and somehow they're cajoled into thinking they're gonna be in a protective environment, when, in fact, it's the beginning of being abused -- and abused for years, Robert, not for --
Traynham:That was my next question is -- First of all, one minute is way too long. But how do you know this? How do we stop this? How do we know that this is happening here in this country? Is it because of what I mentioned a few moments ago, of the nearly 15,000 being reported? How do we end this?
Pagano:Well, first of all, there's a lot of this traffic happening or starting online. People are looking -- In fact, it's horrendous. What's happened is people that get into pornography start to get into wanting a more, if you will, thrilling experience, and they for some reason end up going to younger women. And they get to the point of this absurd obsession with young people. And for parents that can't afford to handle their kids or maybe they're in a one-parent situation, they're somehow being discovered and they're being taken advantage of. And police and law enforcement are dealing with this all over country. We're finding this to be an increasing problem in major cities like Atlanta, where you have a major airport, and kids are being taken in and out of airports or train stations. And the way this has been discovered is some flight attendants are beginning to see situations where they'll see a passenger, a young person next to an older person, and there's so much age difference and the young person doesn't look all that happy or well.
Traynham:The body chemistry is off, if you will.
Pagano:It just doesn't look right, yeah. And this is one of the things we're trying to tell travelers is to be alert to these kind of situations.
Traynham:That was going to be my next question, which is twofold. First and foremost, what can people do? If you're watching this program at home, if you're looking at this on your smart device, people are probably saying, one, "What is sex trafficking?" -- which we'll get to in a minute -- but secondly, "What can I do to help?"
Pagano:You need to be looking at who you're traveling with. And again, increasingly, people are beginning to see these situations. And if we can educate the public -- And that's why I'm here with you today. If we can get people to know this is a local problem everywhere -- It's not just, again, in New York or Washington, D.C. A community like Clayton County, Georgia, which is near Hartsfield Airport, interestingly enough, is one of only eight communities in the country that have any kind of protocol with their police department to process these young kids when they're recovered and help them go through kind of a post-traumatic stress disorder situation. Most communities have no concept of how to handle these kids when they recover them -- Imagine that.
Traynham:You know, you mentioned a few moments ago two towns or two cities that I think most people would not even think that this would happen in. -You mentioned Illinois... -
Traynham:...and you also mentioned Georgia. I think most people would say, "Oh, maybe this happens in New York City, maybe in Los Angeles, maybe in San Francisco, but not in my backyard." To my point earlier and for the benefit of you all that are watching this program, according to U.S. federal law, human trafficking is defined as, "sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act has not attained 18 years or older, and the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services against their will through the use of force, fraud, or coercion." I think that's really important to define that. Very quickly.
Pagano:You've done a nice job, and I think what's amazing is when you hear why people do this. For example, there are people that have been in sex trafficking and say, "You know, the reason we did this is we can make so much money." In one week, they can make, off one person, around $35,000.
Pagano:That's much more than drugs, and it's a situation where they can sell a young person over and over, daily. It's just horrific what they're doing. And these young people don't even know sometimes that they're really victims.
Traynham:Yeah. And the same thing with parents. We need to do a better job of educating all of us.
Pagano:It is, and we need to engage everyone. We need young people to understand this, as well, so they can't become a victim.
Traynham:Len Pagano, thank you very much for joining us. And thank you for joining us for this edition of "Comcast Newsmakers ."I'm Robert Traynham. Have a great day. We'll see you next time. Bye-bye.