AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – “3…3 years old. This is an age when they should be playing with teddy bears and all of that. Not being put in a bedroom,” said Valorie, grandmother of child trafficking victim.

To protect her identity, we’ll call this Aiken County grandmother, ‘Valorie’. She tells us her granddaughter was trafficked by her own mother and her mother’s boyfriend.

“It’s really hard when you see an innocent child have that innocence ripped from them,” said Valorie.

And this is happening in our community. Last year [2022] Richmond County had more child trafficking victim referrals to the Children’s Advocacy Centers of Georgia than any other county in the state.

“It can be super rich, super poor…it can happen anywhere, so you do have to be looking. It is more prevalent in certain areas than others but it can happen anywhere you look,” said Brian Ozden, FBI Assistant Special Agent in Charge for Atlanta Division.

Brian Ozden is the FBI’s Assistant Special Agent in Charge for Atlanta. For decades, he’s seen first hand how children become victims, not just in the home but out of it as well, regardless of how involved a parent is in their child’s life

“They’re very vulnerable so if they get the wrong person who is leading them astray maybe that person shows an interest. And I’ve seen plenty of examples of human trafficking where the first interaction between the victim and the subject is very positive,” said Ozden.

Traffickers offer kids goods, like drugs, rent money, a manicure, shoes or gift cards in exchange for sex.

“A lot of times once it advances, the victims in these cases really get nothing. Once they get them away from their comfort zone, a lot of times it’s ‘you’ll do this or you’ll get hurt, or I won’t take you back home,” said Ozden.

The innocence of Valorie’s granddaughter may have been taken away for the moment, but healing is happening.

“To see a glow about the child, when you see them smiling again and laughing or even speaking up now, that is an amazing healing that just makes my heart glow, that through all of this, she is healing and that there is hope out there for these kids,” said Valorie.

UP NEXT: Tune in Tuesday, September 26th to see how a local law enforcement agency and District Attorney’s Office are working together to arrest and prosecute child sex traffickers in the CSRA


If you’re a human trafficking victim or have information about a potential trafficking situation:

National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC)

NHTRC is a national, toll-free hotline, with specialists available to answer calls from anywhere in the country, 24 hours a day, seven days a week 

Call: 1-888-373-7888

Text: 233733

Submit a tip online:

To report trafficking in Georgia

Call: 1-866-END-HTGA

*Press Option #1 to report a tip to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI)

*Press Option #2 to report a child sex trafficking case directly

*Press Option #3 if you’re an adult requesting assistance from a trafficking situation

Georgia statistics from National Human Trafficking Hotline

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South Carolina Statistics from National Human Trafficking Hotline

South Carolina 2022 Annual Report: Human Trafficking Task Force

Full report here