January 29, 2021
ALBANY COUNTY, N.Y. (NewsNation Now) — People who dedicate their lives to helping victims of human trafficking and exploitation say it’s demanding work. Now, their mission has become even more difficult as misconceptions grow about what these crimes look like and who they impact.
Real and shocking stories of private islands and trafficked children have dominated recent headlines, along with viral internet conspiracy theories of a global faction of celebrity pedophiles. While all this goes on, human trafficking support agencies, like the Albany County Safe Harbour program in New York, say there are real examples of exploitation in our neighborhoods.
“We see it here in the Capital Region, in gangs,” said Nicole Consiglio, coordinator of Safe Harbour. “We also see parents trafficking their own children to feed a drug habit, or to pay their bills. It really does take on a lot of forms, and can happen anywhere at any time.”
Consiglio said both unproven conspiracies and large-scale Hollywood crimes can make parents unsuspecting of the commonplace dangers posed by traffickers.
“We don’t want that message to be lost in these stories that are out there to pull away and draw attention from what’s really going on here,” said Consiglio.
Viral internet theories have also muddied the messaging.
To read the full story by Giuliana Bruno on News Nation: Click Here
September 10, 2020
The claim: Mask wearing makes children more at risk for child sex trafficking
Misinformation about the causes of sex trafficking and how to protect minors can be especially damaging in the fight against it, yet a web of conspiracy theories about the crime has grown over the past few years.
The latest false claim is that wearing masks to prevent COVID-19 makes children more susceptible to abduction, which leads to trafficking.
“Did you know that more than 2,000 missing-child reports are filed each day, and that many of them can be easily found when parents provide specific details about their physical appearance and a photo of THEIR FACE?” a post shared over 1,000 times reads. “Did you KNOW that a child in AMERICA is over 66,000 x more likely to be human trafficked than to get COVID-19?”
Similar posts contend that upwards of 800,000 children go missing every year, and that mask-wearing makes a child more likely to be trafficked. These posts also criticize government officials and businesses for promoting mask use, arguing they are endangering children.
“We have now COMPLETELY taken away identifying our children’s faces. We’ve made it much easier on these child abductors and human traffickers!” a post shared almost 8,000 times reads.
“A child is 66,667 times more likely to be sold to human traffickers than die of COVID-19,” another post shared 2,000 times reads. “In addition, your masks assist in them being transported undetected and unidentified to anyone.”
One of the posters cited an article from a Heritage Foundation blog on an increase in human trafficking during the pandemic when asked for comment from USA TODAY.
To read the full story by Matthew Brown on USA TODAY: Click Here