'Missing, Sex Trafficked' Children Neither Missing, Nor Victims Of Sex Trafficking

from the moral-panics-are-the-worst dept

For quite some time we’ve highlighted the horrible laws being pushed by aggressively misrepresenting the size of the problem of sex trafficking — and especially sex trafficking of children. This is not to say that it never happens. Nor is it to suggest that the crime of sex trafficking, especially of minors, is not horrific and hugely problematic. But we shouldn’t overreact to false information. A year ago, we looked at some of the numbers being presented in favor of passing FOSTA, and found they were almost entirely bullshit. This included Rep. Ann Wagner’s (who is the leading pusher of bad laws around “sex trafficking”) claim child sex trafficking alone was a $9.5 billion industry. As we noted, this number came from a bizarre nonsensical extrapolation of a very misleading and confused report by ICE that covered issues of smuggling (not just sex trafficking). Other stats — such as the supposed number of kids “lured” into sex trafficking — showed even more extrapolation, while police were finding very, very few actual cases of this happening.

But, the narrative has been set and the media makes it into reality, even if… it’s not. Take this headline from the NY Post from last week, claiming “123 missing children found in Michigan during sex trafficking operation”:

Wow. That would be a pretty astoundingly successful police operation, and certainly gives weight to the idea that so many kids are lured into sex trafficking rings and then disappear and go missing. Except… details matter. And deep in the NY Post story they actually admit that out of the 123 missing kids only three were “identified as possible sex trafficking victims.” So, uh, why does the headline suggest that all 123 kids are sex trafficking victims when it’s not clear if any are, and clear that the vast majority are not?

And then there’s this: only four of the kids were actually missing.

What’s more, all but four of the “missing children” were not actually missing. In the remaining cases, minors were listed in a police database as missing but had since been found or returned home on their own. “Many were (homeschooled),” Lt. Michael Shaw told The Detroit News. “Some were runaways as well.”

Indeed, if you look at the report, it notes that all of the kids outside of those four “were found safe with their parents or guardians.”

So, remember, the headline screamed that 123 missing children were found in a sex trafficking “operation.” Now it seems that most of them were “found” at home with their parents, and only three of them might have been victims of sex trafficking. These seem like important details, especially when you have election officials like Rep. Ann Wagner pushing a vast surveillance bill on the basis of the problem of sex trafficking. Pushing bogus information like over a hundred missing kids being engaged in sex trafficking only helps build that narrative — one that appears to actually be much, much more limited than the media or lying politicians will let you know about.

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Comments on “'Missing, Sex Trafficked' Children Neither Missing, Nor Victims Of Sex Trafficking”

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Killercool (profile) says:

Re: Article Title Correction:

I’m surprised they didn’t go with the equally "true" headline:

75% of Missing Children Involved in Sex-trafficking

3 out of four is much easier to understand. Not "victims," though, that would require proof. Also, it’s much more media friendly than having to bring up that ~97% of the "missing" children were just late coming home, or attempted runaways.

Only 3% of Missing Children Actually Kidnapped

No, doesn’t roll off the press quite so nicely.

Anonymous Coward says:

Even the USMS press release implies that all 123 kids were actually missing. Now, doing some due diligence and finding that your records are in need of update because the “missing” kids aren’t actually missing doesn’t exactly make for headlines, but even if the headline read “Four missing kids found” I’d be thinking “Hey good job guys!” so I don’t understand why they couldn’t just go with that.

So there’s an agenda here, or somebody is REALLY bad at writing press releases.

Anonymous Coward says:

Found safe with their parents

Indeed, if you look at the report, it notes that all of the kids outside of those four "were found safe with their parents or guardians."

That doesn’t mean much. Most kidnapped children will be found safe with a parent, because a parent is most often the kidnapper (IOW: a parent without legal custody takes the child, or a parent with part-time custody doesn’t return them).

Anonymous Coward says:

It looks like we are in a new era. We are no longer in the information age and instead are in the disinformation age. The internet is powerful tool but garbage in, garbage out. People are mis trusting everything about everything they hear and read. Anti Vaxxers to Flat Earthers I think are a side effect of the of that disinformation campaign to religious extremes. How can you trust anything in news companies will post news that only about 2.4 of their data might have been correct.

Personanongrata says:

Lies, Damn Lies and Politicans

‘Missing, Sex Trafficked’ Children Neither Missing, Nor Victims Of Sex Trafficking

Paraphrasing words attributed to one of America’s greatest wordsmiths – Mark Twain (aka Samuel Clemons):

Lies, damn lies and government spokespersons

What a disgrace that the worthless bi-partisan stooges comprising the two wings of the US’s most prominent political party – the war party – need to constantly resort to fictional narratives (ie lies) in order to justify/sway ignorant Americans into supporting their long march to tyranny.

restless94110 (profile) says:


Yep, just like I told you before. The Sex Trafficking hysteria is just a code word for prostitution. Keep making prostituion illegal, except now call it sex trafficking. In other words, no one would willingly have sex for money, so the only possibility is that they have been trafficked.

This is now and has always been Puritans disguised as feminists pushing anti-prostitution laws disguised as sex trafficking.

Only this time the penalties are multiplied 1000 times.Insanity multiplied.

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