Aiken County in top 10 list of counties where human trafficking cases reported

News
Human_Trafficking_6_20180514104204

AIKEN COUNTY, S.C. (WJBF) – NewsChannel 6 is learning new details about the human trafficking problem in the CSRA. Aiken County is ranked in the top 10 areas across the state with open human trafficking court cases.

“It’s a crime hidden plain sight,” Executive Director Child Advocacy Center of Aiken County Maryann Burgess told Aiken Bureau Chief Shawn Cabbagestalk.

Human trafficking continues to be an issue in the Palmetto State. According to data, there are increasing numbers of people identified as victims.”The easiest one to spot is that the female population seems to be a higher number,” she said. Attorney General Alan Wilson, who serves as chair of the South Carolina Human Trafficking Task Force, said the state saw a near 15% increase in the number of victims reported to the National Human Trafficking Hotline. “We are seeing a steady increase in the number of children and youth who have been identified by DSS as victims,” Wilson said.

In Aiken County, there were 25 cases opened in 2021. Nearly 50 percent of cases were still pending. “A lot of the courts were closed a lot during this pandemic. So I think we’re seeing some lingering court cases,”

In Aiken County, there were 25 cases opened in 2021. Nearly 50 percent of cases were still pending. “A lot of the courts were closed a lot during this pandemic. So I think we’re seeing some lingering court cases,” Burgess said. The numbers may not paint the true picture of the problem because some cases are simply not reported. “That’s due to recognition, awareness, victims, lack of support in speaking up, all sorts of things,” she added.

The numbers may not paint the true picture of the problem because some cases are simply not reported.”That’s due to recognition, awareness, victims, lack of support in speaking up, all sorts of things,” Burgess added.

The top 10 list of counties where human trafficking cases have been reported the most are:

  1. Horry County
  2. Richland County
  3. Greenville County
  4. Charleston County
  5. Spartanburg County
  6. Anderson County
  7. York County
  8. Dorchester County
  9. Greenwood County
  10. Aiken, Cherokee, Colleton, Florence, Lexington, and Orangeburg counties

A task force has been created made up of many parts including at least nine areas including Aiken, Barnwell, and Bamberg Counties. In addition to being the Executive Director Child Advocacy Center of Aiken County, Burgess is also the Regional Task Force Chair for the Aiken, Barnwell, and Bamberg County area. The group is expected to meet at least four times a year focusing on coming up with a plan to fix the issue. “We need to just keep the awareness going and training and education so that people, can understand what it is, how to recognize it and then who to call and what to do about it,” she said. Also, the state task force is launching a new prevention education program designed for middle and high schools, youth-serving agencies, faith groups, and child welfare agencies.

According to the U.S. State Department, there are an estimated 24.9 million victims worldwide at any given time. Burgess says you should trust your instincts.

“If someone looks like they’re uncomfortable, ask them, ask them what’s going on. Maybe they’ll be brave enough to tell you what’s going on, but if we simply do nothing, that person’s gonna remain in the position that they’re in. So that’s one way we can do it is just simply ask somebody,” she said.

If you’d like to report possible human trafficking call the national hotline at 888-373-7888 or text 233733.


Copyright 2022 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Trending Stories