“Hope is why we’re here” was the opening comment from Kiawah-Seabrook Exchange Club’s guest speaker on June 20. Eliza Reock, Strategic Advisor on Child and Sex Trafficking for the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC), spoke to the club about the work that she and the NCMEC have been doing to combat child sex trafficking.
“These kids are victims,” said Ms. Reock, and they need to be cared for, not condemned for their behavior, since a child “cannot legally, developmentally, or socially make a choice regarding participation in commercial sex.” Ms. Reock described the path that many of these children follow, with 80 percent of those who are being trafficked coming out of the foster care system, itself a breeding ground for child sex trafficking.
It’s a tough problem but her organization is doing a lot to fight back. They have created a clearinghouse for exploited children and have recovered over 290 thousand missing children since their inception, and they have received and acted on 18 million cyber tips in 2018.
As to how those of us on Seabrook and Kiawah can help, we can all be aware of potential abuse, and if we see something, say something. Ms. Reock’s advice; “Don’t talk yourself out of reporting it.”.
Here are some contacts where potential child sex trafficking can be reported:
• 1-800-THE LOST
Prior to joining MCMEC, Ms. Reock served as Director of Programs for Shared Hope International and as Executive Director of the HKA Family Foundation. She has provided congressional testimony on the subject of child sex trafficking, and she sits on several government advisory task forces. She serves on the editorial board for Violence Against Women and is an active volunteer with DC Serves. She is a graduate of the College of Charleston.
-Submitted by Thad Peterson