So sad: Custody cases must be scrutinized due to human trafficking

Gov. Tom Wolf recently signed into law a bill supported by our area’s lawmakers that would require human trafficking offenses to be considered in a person’s bid for child custody.

We agree with this piece of legislation but find it very sad and frustrating that such legislation is needed in the first place.

It would be easy to say this type of crime doesn’t exist, until you look at the numbers.

There were 271 cases of human trafficking in Pennsylvania in 2019, the most recent year for which statistics are available, according to the National Human Trafficking Hotline.

There were far more in neighboring states to our north and west. In New York, 454 cases were reported, and in Ohio, 450.

The vast majority of those cases involved the sex trade whose victims often were minors.

We fear nearby Interstate 80 is used to transport victims of human trafficking.

There have been examples of that.

Don’t believe this happens?

Then explain Jeffrey Epstein, who recruited young women for sex in an international scandal in which a number of powerful men were implicated.

After being arrested in July 2019, Epstein was found dead in his cell the following month. While he escaped legal judgment, his alleged collaborator Ghislaine Maxwell faces charges of allegedly aiding Epstein’s sexual abuse of young girls.

That’s just one example of the sex trade here in the United States, where both U.S. residents and foreign nationals are being bought and sold like modern-day slaves, according to the FBI.

“Traffickers use violence, manipulation, or false promises of well-paying jobs or romantic relationships to exploit victims,” the FBI’s website states. “Victims are forced to work as prostitutes or to take jobs as migrant, domestic, restaurant, or factory workers with little or no pay.”

In our area, it is believed that Interstate 80 and nearby Route 15 is a major artery for human trafficking between Ohio, New York and New Jersey and Washington D.C.

In fact, our nation’s capital was the top city for this type of crime in 2019 with 401 cases, according to the hotline.

Also consider that one in seven children reported missing in 2018 were victims of sex trafficking, according to state Rep. David Rowe, R-East Buffalo Township, sponsor of the legislation that was just signed into law by Gov. Wolf.

Rowe said the average age of those forced into sex slavery is 12.

Yes, 12 years of age.

It’s absolutely revolting.

The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that 200,000 children are the victim of sex trafficking annually in America.

If you suspect human trafficking, please report it to authorities. Call 911 for local authorities or 1-888-373-7888 for the National Human Trafficking Hotline.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)


Starting at $3.69/week.

Subscribe Today