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Op-Ed: Leaving children unattended in vehicles creates an ideal opportunity for traffickers to strike

Missing Baby Alabama Op-Ed
Op-Ed: Leaving children unattended in vehicles creates an ideal opportunity for traffickers to strike

Op-Ed: Leaving children unattended in vehicles creates an ideal opportunity for traffickers to strike

Written By: Daniel Manning

Early on this morning, Tuesday July 11th, an Amber Alert was issued for a 9-month-old baby that was left unattended in a vehicle which was subsequently stolen.  Thankfully, the baby was found, unharmed, and returned to her family.  As security professionals, it is our duty to provide safety and security to those in need, especially those who are most vulnerable. Today, I want to draw attention to a critical issue that poses an imminent threat to our children: leaving them unattended in vehicles. While this act may seem harmless at first glance, it carries severe consequences that extend beyond the immediate dangers. In particular, I want to highlight the alarming link between this practice and the pervasive crime of human trafficking.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) compiles data on incidents involving children left unattended in vehicles, including cases reported to emergency services or law enforcement. According to their data, between 1998 and 2021, there were more than 1,000 reported cases of children being left alone in vehicles. However, it is important to note that this data represents reported incidents and may not capture the entirety of the issue due to underreporting or variations in reporting practices.

Human trafficking is a despicable crime that preys upon the most innocent among us. The United States, sadly, is not immune to this global issue. According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, over 10,000 cases of human trafficking were reported in the United States in 2020 alone, with an estimated 2,297 victims being children. These numbers are a stark reminder that we cannot afford to be complacent or ignorant about the dangers our children face.

Leaving children unattended in vehicles creates an ideal opportunity for traffickers to strike. Traffickers often lurk in parking lots, waiting for the chance to abduct vulnerable children. A momentary lapse in supervision can lead to a lifetime of unimaginable suffering for these innocent souls. We must be aware of the grave risks associated with this negligence and take immediate action to prevent such tragedies.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), a prominent organization dedicated to combatting child exploitation, reported that in 2020, they received over 21 million reports of suspected child sexual exploitation, involving both online and offline incidents. These reports encompass various forms of exploitation, including child sex trafficking.

To address the issue effectively and prevent harm to children, it is crucial for communities to prioritize awareness, education, and proactive measures. Public education campaigns, community initiatives, and the promotion of responsible caregiving practices can help raise awareness about the risks associated with leaving children unattended in vehicles and encourage proactive intervention to ensure child safety. Here are a few practical steps we can take to ensure their safety:

Never leave children unattended in vehicles, regardless of how brief the intended absence may be. Take them with you, or if necessary, find a trusted adult to supervise them.

Create reminders to help prevent accidental incidents. Place your personal belongings (such as a cellphone or wallet) in the backseat near your child, ensuring you always check the backseat before leaving the vehicle.

Teach children about the dangers of strangers and how to respond if approached. Instill in them a sense of caution and empowerment, enabling them to seek help and report any suspicious activities.

Engage in community initiatives aimed at preventing human trafficking. Support local organizations, advocate for stricter laws, and educate others about the signs and prevention strategies.

Law enforcement agencies remain committed to combating human trafficking and protecting our children. However, it is vital that we work together as a community to address this grave issue effectively. By implementing these preventive measures and raising awareness, we can make a significant difference in the lives of our children.

Let us unite in the fight against human trafficking and the dangers our children face. Together, we can create a safer world for the ones we hold most dear. Our children deserve nothing less than our utmost dedication and protection.

Remember, it takes a village to raise a child, but it takes an entire community to keep them safe.