Group calls for community to get involved to prevent child trafficking

A Lowcountry organization is highlighting signs of young people who may be victims of exploitation or trafficking.
Published: Jan. 20, 2023 at 5:17 PM EST
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Preventing abuse, protecting children, and healing families is the goal of the Dee Norton Child Advocacy Center.

The organization is highlighting signs of youths being exploited or trafficked and sharing how people can best respond.

In 2022, Dee Norton says their IMPACT Program assisted with over 30 confirmed child and youth victims of trafficking.

They also served 52 youths who were identified as being suspected victims of trafficking.

The nonprofit wants community members and parents to be in the know to support the prevention and response to child trafficking.

They say to prevent it, be an involved and trusted adult. Dee Norton advocates say you can do that by keeping open communication lines with children and youth.

They say you should know where your child is spending time and who they’re spending it with, treat your child’s online environment the same as their physical environment, and talk about safe internet usage.

In response to child trafficking, Dee Norton says you should remain calm.

They say you should allow the child to talk, do not blame or minimize the child’s feelings, acknowledge their feelings, turn to a professional for help, and take action.

“What we want adults to know is, if they see something, say something. Trust your gut,” Dee Norton Child Advocacy Center Executive Director Beverly Hutchinson said. “Learn more about this particular type of abuse. Highlighting this particular issue during the month of January is a great opportunity for all adults to educate themselves under the topic, and to earn what’s happening here in our own community.”

There are several ways to report trafficking or suspected trafficking, one of them is contacting local law enforcement.

You can also contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 or the South Carolina Department of Social Services Hotline if you are a Mandated Reporter at 1-888-227-3487.

If you are a child is in immediate danger or an emergency, call 911.

To find more resources about child abuse for parents, children and families, visit www.deenortoncenter.org.