Dee Norton Child Advocacy Center, the region’s leading resource to prevent abuse, protect children and heal families, is addressing the importance of Human Trafficking Prevention Month with resources aimed to help youth victims of sex trafficking.
Child sex trafficking is a severe form of sexual abuse involving the exchange of something of value (e.g., money, housing, etc.) for sex with a child/minor. Dee Norton’s IMPACT (Improving Multidisciplinary Partnerships to Address Child Trafficking) Program continues to develop and strengthen our community’s response to youth victims of sex trafficking and provide coordinated interventions to reduce the lasting impact of abusive behavior.
“The value of the IMPACT Program is that we work as a team. When a child has been identified as a potential victim, we immediately meet with our multidisciplinary partners to gather as much information as we can, including the Department of Juvenile Justice, the Department of Social Services and Law Enforcement,” says Rachael Garrett, Director of Community Programs at Dee Norton. “We then work collaboratively to create an individualized action plan to help serve the victim and protect them from future harm.”
To strengthen our community’s response to youth victims, Dee Norton has compiled steps to identify warning signs and protect children from sex trafficking:
- Communication. Educate both yourself and your child about the danger of sex trafficking. Make sure your child feels comfortable and safe confiding in you about these difficult topics.
- Recognize Warning Signs. Be aware of warning signs that may put a child at an increased risk of being a victim. Some red flags may include unexplained school absences, presence of multiple cell phones, erased call logs, signs of physical trauma, abnormal behavioral changes, and substance abuse.
- Raise Awareness. In the 2021 Human Trafficking Annual Report for South Carolina, Charleston County has been identified as the fourth highest county for reported incidents. At Dee Norton Children’s Advocacy Center in 2021 alone, there were 35 confirmed victims and 73 who were suspected or had concerns of trafficking. It is important to raise awareness in your family, among your peers and in your community on the signs and risk factors associated with child sex trafficking.
- Report Your Suspicions. Child sex trafficking happens in our Lowcountry community. If you believe a child in your life is a victim of sex trafficking call your local law enforcement or The National Human Trafficking Hotline.
To learn more about recognizing signs of child sex trafficking or Dee Norton’s IMPACT program, visit www.deenortoncenter.org.