Human Trafficking Sweep Shows Communities Must Come Together

Operation Cross Country, a three-day nationwide enforcement campaign by the FBI focusing on underage victims of sex trafficking, recently concluded with the rescue of 105 sexually exploited children and the arrests of 150 pimps and other individuals. In the Bay Area, 12 children were rescued from pimps. While the issue is not new for runaway programs, aggressive pimps going after these young people is now more common. Vulnerable youth, especially those on the run, are often preyed upon by pimps. Studies show that runaways are often identified and targeted by pimps within 48 hours of hitting the streets. Runaway programs need to learn how keep young people safe and must work with local law enforcement when victims seek help from runaway shelters.

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A Better Approach to Runaways

The number of runaways in the United States has been widely debated, but a 10-year-old study by the Federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention estimated the number at 1.7 million. No matter the estimate, we know kids do run away, often due to violence in the home or family conflict. While on the streets, they are often prey to criminal activities, drug use, and sexual assault. So what can a police officer do when confronting a suspected underage runaway?

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