'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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  • identicon
    Too Much Coffee Man, 15 Oct 2018 @ 10:49am

    It sounds like newspapers have mastered the art of clickbait.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Kevin Hayden, 15 Oct 2018 @ 11:05am

    Article Title Correction:

    Michigan investigation reveals that less than 3% of chidren listed a 'Missing' are actually sex-trafficked.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Oct 2018 @ 11:23am

      Re: Article Title Correction:

      "Michigan investigation reveals that less than 3% of chidren listed a 'Missing' are actually sex-trafficked."

      Won't sell many papers or get many clicks with that. Truth doesn't sell.... but lies, well that will being in money.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      JoeCool (profile), 15 Oct 2018 @ 11:26am

      Re: Article Title Correction:

      Correction: change "are actually" to "might be".

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Michael, 15 Oct 2018 @ 11:27am

      Re: Article Title Correction:

      Confused law enforcement agents discover that 97% of children found were not actually missing.

      In other news: law enforcement agents unable to find military equipment given to them by the DOJ.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Killercool (profile), 15 Oct 2018 @ 11:33am

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      trollificus (profile), 15 Oct 2018 @ 9:28pm

      Re: NOT

      Near Future Article Title:

      "DOJ Grant Funding Police Department's New Sex Trafficking Task Force"

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Oct 2018 @ 11:45am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Zof (profile), 15 Oct 2018 @ 12:51pm

      Re:

      They literally would have researched the data before writing the story, so they literally misrepresented reality on purpose. There's no benefit of the doubt here.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 15 Oct 2018 @ 11:48am

    using the information sociaty..

    For mis information..
    Dis information..
    To hide and confuse all the issues and JUST LIE..
    For a nation of "Truth, Justice, American way"..
    I think we missed.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Oct 2018 @ 11:58am

    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).

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Oct 2018 @ 12:31pm

    123 Children Found in Michigan...

    What I'd like to know, is why there were only 123 children found in the entire state during the sex trafficking operation. That seems a much larger item of concern than sex trafficking. It indicates that there's not too much procreation going on there.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Oct 2018 @ 1:12pm

      Re: 123 Children Found in Michigan...

      That's easy: the decision of whether or not to bring new life into this troubled world where we live is a difficult one; this just shows that the decision of whether or not to bring new life into Michigan has a much simpler answer.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Oct 2018 @ 1:22pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Personanongrata, 15 Oct 2018 @ 2:00pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    AricTheRed, 15 Oct 2018 @ 2:15pm

    I can counts!

    OK class, of the children previously reported missing how many appeared to be victims of Sex Trafficking? Anyone?

    NY Post do you have an answer?

    Yes ma'am.

    One, Two, no Three, Children were trafficked.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Glenn, 15 Oct 2018 @ 3:23pm

    Why?

    1. it sells newspapers (checkout line impulse buy)
    2. it sells the idea "your tax dollars at work" (as opposed to going into someone's pocket)--I mean, we can't build up a decent budget deficit on just military hardware and tax cuts for the rich

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Ian, 15 Oct 2018 @ 5:31pm

    Like a Portuguese Graveyard

    Chopper goes down in a Portugal graveyard.
    News reports the incident as "600 bodies found and counts are still going up, worst air accident ever!"

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      trollificus (profile), 15 Oct 2018 @ 9:34pm

      Re: Like a Portuguese Graveyard

      lol. I was going to post that it's good they didn't drive by a school, the headline would be "957 children found in Michigan sex trafficking operation.", but was late.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Oct 2018 @ 6:27pm

    Well, anything to prove that FOSTA and SESTA worked...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Oct 2018 @ 5:43am

    There is a difference between the words "in" and "during"

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Annonymouse, 16 Oct 2018 @ 8:37am

    Not so super man

    Truth Justice and the American Way

    You get one and its chosen for you if you have to deal with Americans

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    restless94110 (profile), 17 Oct 2018 @ 10:28am

    Yep.

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    wefwef, 19 Oct 2018 @ 8:40pm

    Just remember. The fakery of sex trafficking numbers.

    Just remember, that even willing prostitutes are considered sex trafficking victims when it comes to the stats.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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