Safety Expert: Threat of human trafficking higher in tourist towns like Charleston

Safety Expert: Threat of human trafficking higher in tourist towns like Charleston

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Children are more likely to be sold for sex or labor in tourist towns like Charleston, according to Carole Swiecicki.

She's the Executive Director of the Dee Norton Lowcountry Children's Center.

"Over 11,000 children really are at risk in our state every year," said Swiecicki.

She says people who traffic kids try to blend in. They're drawn to crowds where they can go unnoticed and go after their victims.

Swiecicki said, "Traffickers will target kids who are lonely and don't have friends."

13 to 14 year olds about to enter high school are who Swiecicki says are most at risk.

She says prevention in our area starts with tourists and locals paying attention to what is often times hidden in plain sight.

"If they see something that's odd, like someone who's with a child that's really young, but it looks like they're dating someone really young or a child who's kind of wondering on their own," said Swiecicki.

Swiecicki says you could save a child's life just by taking the extra step after noticing something weird.

Swiecicki said, "It's okay to say something, it's okay to say this seems odd, let me find a law enforcement officer, let me just find somebody. If it winds up being nothing, then that's okay."

This week U.S. representatives approved a series of bills.

Swiecicki hopes they'll provide funding to educate people and make more resources available for victims of human trafficking.

Right now folks at the children's center are prepping for monthly meetings with local organizations and law enforcement.

Their goal is to get a better idea of what resources we need right here in the Lowcountry.