S.C. Human Trafficking Task Force sees increase in children, youth becoming victims

Published: Jan. 10, 2022 at 8:07 AM EST|Updated: Jan. 10, 2022 at 10:31 AM EST
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WMBF) – South Carolina’s top attorney released the latest report on human trafficking in the state and what’s being done to combat the crime.

The South Carolina Human Trafficking Task Force 2021 Annual Report shows there was a 15% increase in the number of victims reported to the National Human Trafficking Hotline.

“Additionally, we are seeing a steady increase in the number of children and youth who have been identified by DSS as victims,” said South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson.

In an effort to prevent young people in South Carolina from becoming human trafficking victims, the Attorney General’s Office will kick off an education initiative in 2022. It will off year-round prevention education programs that are designed for middle and high schools, youth-serving agencies, faith groups and child welfare agencies.

“As we seek additional resources to meet the needs of minor victims in our state, we must also try to protect those who have not yet been victimized,” said Kathryn Moorehead, the coordinator of the State Task Force. “The best approach is to educate young people through age-appropriate, comprehensive lesson plans.”

Wilson added during Monday’s news conference that Horry County remains the top county in South Carolina for reported human trafficking cases. Horry County was also number one in reported cases in 2019 and 2020.

But the attorney general made it clear it doesn’t mean that Horry County has the most human trafficking activity.

“That’s not saying that’s where the most human trafficking is occurring, that’s saying where most human trafficking is being reported. You can have a county with a very low report number but a lot of activity and people just don’t know about it,” Wilson explained.

These are the top 10 counties reporting human trafficking activities:

  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 County, Cherokee County, Colleton County, Florence County, Lexington County, Orangeburg County (six-way tie for 10th place)

To report an incident or are in need of victim services, you’re asked to call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888-373-7888. The Hotline is confidential and open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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