By Brad Segall
NORRISTOWN, Pa. (CBS) — A US congressman from the local area heard firsthand today from those on the front lines about the toll that human trafficking takes — not only the victims, but also on society.
US Rep. Pat Meehan (R-Pa.) says the numbers are staggering. He says the Department of Homeland Security calls the trafficking of adults and children a $32-billion-a-year business, second only to illegal drugs.
Meehan (far right in photo) says the victims are being moved around illegally not only for sex but also as cheap labor. One of the challenges, he says, is prosecuting those responsible for the activity.
“We know it’s out there, but I’m often been struck with how difficult it has been to not only identify the specific victim but, once a victim has been identified, to encourage that victim to have the confidence to come forward,” he said.
Meehan, himself a former prosecutor on both the county and federal level, says the growth of the Internet has been responsible with three-quarters of the meetings with girls under 18, arranged online and through social media.
Social service providers told Meehan they need more funding to help victims and educate teachers and administrators, because girls are being groomed for trafficking in grades 7 through 12.