We sometimes hear stories about girls who are taken away from their country to be sent elsewhere to work in the sex trade. Human trafficking of girls isn’t just a problem occurring in far-away places, but according to Peel Region’s Police Chief, it is happening right here where we live.
It is happening at malls, schools, parties, and wherever criminals have access to kids. Young girls can be recruited from anywhere to work in the sex trade, and in some situations, girls are being recruited by girls who they know.
It’s alarming that girls as young as thirteen years of age are being trafficked while they remain living in their homes, even as their family and friends do not realize what is taking place.
Criminals use deceitful techniques to lure girls and entrap them, sometimes buying them expensive gifts or becoming their boyfriends. In the process, the girls are groomed to eventually commit sexual acts. Usually, their actions are photographed or videotaped, and then the girls are threatened and blackmailed to enter the sex trade.
According to Police Chief Jennifer Evans, it’s important to look for the signs. “Is your child receiving expensive gifts? Do they start changing the way they look? Are they wearing more makeup? Are they coming in later?” She encourages parents to become involved and ask questions about their kids’ friends, who they are spending time with, and where they go. “It’s critical for their safety. Have conversations; Sit down and talk to them.”
Since 2008, Peel Regional Police has laid over one hundred charges every year against individuals for human trafficking, child pornography and prostitution; In 2015, that number rose to over two hundred charges.
To combat the problem, Peel Regional Police has been sending officers into schools to educate students about what human trafficking is and to know the signs that someone is being trafficked. After these sessions, officers are sometimes approached by students who privately ask questions, realizing that perhaps they or people they know are being groomed or are already trapped.
In this special episode of Brampton Focus, host Michael A. Charbon speaks with Chief Jennifer Evans about human trafficking in Peel, about how to recognize the signs that it is happening to a person you know, and how you can intervene to help.