Before we get into the heartbreaking nationwide data, a recent local report from Fox2 Now St. Louis, highlights the astounding number of teens, male and female, that have gone missing in St. Louis and surrounding areas, and one small community where the data shows that in 2017, those numbers have increased exponentially.
While the report does a good job compiling a list of the missing from the Missouri State Highway Patrol, which shows there are 364 active missing juvenile cases, the Fox2 report presents the numbers without context or comparisons, which shows the staggering scope, and the 2017 increase.
For example, the report states that 33 teens have gone missing in Berkeley, MO, since 2000, but in delving below the numbers, tracking the dates and comparing the population of Berkeley in comparison with the amount of missing teens in St. Louis, MO, where the estimated population is over 30 times the amount than Berkeley, the bigger picture emerges.
As of 2015, official estimates for St. Louis population is listed at approximately 315,685, making it the largest metropolitan area in Missouri. The list at the Fox2 News website is divided into "Missing St. Louis Area Female Teens" and "Missing St. Louis Male Teens," and shows a total of 76 missing from St. Louis alone since 2000. 47 females and 29 males. (Note, while the site categorized them as "teens" a very small numbers of the names listed are in their 20s and 30s.)
In contrast, the small town of Berkeley, MO, as of the 2010 census (the latest one available) showed a population of 8,978, and has nearly half as many teens missing in the same time frame.
76 missing - St. Louis, population 315,685
33 missing - Berkeley, population 8,978.
It gets worse. If those numbers and the comparisons aren't disturbing enough, a look at the dates show the disappearances are increasing. From 2000 to 2016, a total of 33 teens, males and females have gone missing in Berkeley, but 7 of them have occurred in 2017. For the whole year of 2016, there were four.
State Senator Maria Chapelle-Nadal has been one of the few politicians trying to get the public's attention about it. She recently posted on Facebook asking parents to make sure their kids "have a tracking device on their phones. Instruct them to keep it on when they leave the house. This is serious. Over 20 girls have gone missing in a very small local zone."
Chapelle-Nadal told me in person, "There are people zeroing in on our young girls -- and men as well -- because they want to capture them and make them part of the sex trade."
Note- According to Unity Alert's Facebook page, out of the 361 juveniles actively missing from the whole state of Missouri, only 34 photos are available on file. (Less that ten percent) Out of the 554 adults actively missing from the state of Missouri, only 158 photos are available on file.
Below the short video news report about "The Missing" in the St. Louis area, we are going to discuss the bigger picture of PedoGate in America.
PEDOGATE IN AMERICA
While the focus on Missouri and the small community of Berkeley, MO, helps to personalize the issue, for lack of a better term, human trafficking has been reported in all 50 U.S. States, and Washington, DC.
Many missing teens are treated as runaway cases, and many of them are, but according to almost every site and expert that focuses on human trafficking, runaways and homeless youths are one of the most vulnerable targets for human traffickers, to be used as sex and/or labor slaves.
Key Facts from National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, show that according to the FBI, in 2016 there were 465,676 NCIC entries for missing children. National Center for Missing and Exploited Children assisted law enforcement in 20,500 cases of missing children, 90 percent of which were categorized as endangered runaways. Of the more than 18,500 endangered runaways reported to NCMEC in 2016, one in six were likely victims of child sex trafficking. (Source)
As ANP has reported previously, approximately 75-80% of human trafficking is for sex and 80 percent of those sold into sexual slavery are under 24, and some are as young as six years old. 80% of trafficking victims are female and over 50% of human trafficking victims are children.
Because of the hidden nature of the crime it is almost impossible to obtain completely accurate numbers, but the U.S. Institute Against Human Trafficking estimates the number of children in the U.S. who are trafficked "is by far in excess of 100,000." Some claim that number could be as high as 300,000.
Perhaps the most horrifying part of it all is that any one of us may have seen a victim and a human trafficker as they often hide in plain sight. From the sleaziest, rent-by-the-hour hotels to those considered 5 star, massage parlors and nail salons are often fronts for illegal human traffickers, airports are used to transport victims regularly, and major sporting events, such as the Super Bowl, is reported to be the "single largest incident of human trafficking in the U.S."
HOW TO SPOT A VICTIM AND MAKE A DIFFERENCE
While we give kudos to president Trump for wanting to combat this "epidemic," law enforcement often depends on tips from Americans, since quite often the victims themselves have no ability to notify authorities, so it is important to recognize the red flags and telltale signs of a victim as well as the behavior of the trafficker.
Is not free to leave or come and go as he/she wishes Is in the commercial sex industry and has a pimp / manager Is unpaid, paid very little, or paid only through tips Works excessively long and/or unusual hours Is not allowed breaks or suffers under unusual restrictions at work Owes a large debt and is unable to pay it off Was recruited through false promises concerning the nature and conditions of his/her work High security measures exist in the work and/or living locations (e.g. opaque windows, boarded up windows, bars on windows, barbed wire, security cameras, etc.)
Poor Mental Health or Abnormal Behavior:
Is fearful, anxious, depressed, submissive, tense, or nervous/paranoid Exhibits unusually fearful or anxious behavior after bringing up law enforcement Avoids eye contact
Poor Physical Health:
Lacks medical care and/or is denied medical services by employer Appears malnourished or shows signs of repeated exposure to harmful chemicals Shows signs of physical and/or sexual abuse, physical restraint, confinement, or torture
Lack of Control:
Has few or no personal possessions Is not in control of his/her own money, no financial records, or bank account Is not in control of his/her own identification documents (ID or passport) Is not allowed or able to speak for themselves (a third party may insist on being present and/or translating)
Claims of just visiting and inability to clarify where he/she is staying/address Lack of knowledge of whereabouts and/or of what city he/she is in Loss of sense of time Has numerous inconsistencies in his/her story
If you see any of these red flags, contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 for specialized victim services referrals or to report the situation.
The statistics are horrifying, but by being aware and alert and looking for the signs, we can make a difference, as evidenced by an Alaska Flight attendant who was highlighted in reports in February for actions she took six years prior, when she saved a teen aged girl from a sex trafficker. She noticed a girl about 14 or 15 with a well dressed older man, noted the girls demeanor and the man's behavior, where the girl wouldn't make eye contact and the man wouldn't let the girl speak when asked a question, so she arranged to get the girl to go to the bathroom where she had left a note.
The girl responded to the note saying she needed help.
Fedrick immediately reported the man to the pilot who then alerted police.. By the time the flight touched down in San Francisco, cops were waiting at the terminal.
It was then revealed the girl was the victim of human trafficking and Fedrick had just saved her life.
While the topic of human trafficking is abhorrent, ignoring it is inhuman. Learn the signs, be aware and alert and by doing so, you may be able to save a child's life.