Over the past week, South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson has led a two-day Southeast Human Trafficking coalition with human trafficking advocates from eight different states in the U.S.
According to WCBD-TV, there was a meeting in Atlanta, GA hosted by the Regional Administration on Children and Families to discuss the growing human trafficking problem in this country.
“Human trafficking is the fastest growing crime in the world and South Carolina sits right between two of the top 20 hubs for it- Atlanta, Georgia and Charlotte, North Carolina,” Wilson said. “That is why we’ve created this Human Trafficking task force in the southeast meeting to work together against modern day slavery.”
Human Trafficking is defined as the exploitation of sexual slavery and kidnapping for commercial exploitation while using force.
Every year, the South Carolina trafficking task force is legislatively required to release their annual report, which includes details about sexual activity, prosecutions and services provided to victims.
In 2017, of the five main locations in South Carolina, Horry County was listed third.
Kathryn Moorehead, coordinator of the South Carolina Task Force, spoke with reporters at WCBD on the human trafficking issue.
“The most common method of recruitment of human trafficking was found to be through family, friends and care givers,” said Moorehead.
Renzy Smith, a junior at Coastal Carolina, opened up about how difficult it was to hear this information.
“I find this news to be disturbing and uncomfortable that my home has this issue,” said Smith. “I would never have thought Horry County would be rated in this. As a girl, I am already careful about who I’m with, where I am and what I do. Most girls don’t understand that they need to be more vigilant about who they’re with. Coastal does a pretty good job of making their students safe and informed.”
Henry McMaster, Governor of South Carolina, announced on Jan. 5 that January 2018 will be Human Trafficking awareness in the state of South Carolina
A new initiative to educate people on trafficking will be through a statewide website and the use of billboards. Its purpose is to inform community members, visiting tourists, and victims about helplines or what they can do to prevent it.
Wilson indicated that human trafficking is a $150 billion-dollar industry, second to drug trafficking, with children as a main target.
Robyn Causey, a social worker from Horry Georgetown spoke with The State News in regards to South Carolina’s growing human trafficking problem.
“There are more human slaves in the world than other time’s in history, almost every world is affected by trafficking,” said Causey. “The average age of entry into sex trafficking is 12 to 14 years old, but some are much younger. Ninety percent of sexually exploited youth are under the control of a pimp.”
As this criminal enterprise continues from the shores of Myrtle Beach to Horry County and other cities, agencies and state governments will try their best to combat the harrowing epidemic.