Host of Disneyland and featured as the most visited city in the nation according to Forbes, Orlando ranked 3rd in the country in number of calls to the national human-trafficking hotline in 2017. As bad as this issue is, the worst part is the unawareness not only by the Orlando residents itself but also the 62.7 million tourists visiting Orlando annually. As always, kids and young girls are the most targeted ones.
“Because of our tourism, because we are transient, because we are growing rapidly, it makes us a community where this type of exploitation is more likely to happen,” said Tomas Lares, founder and executive director of Florida Abolitionist, the regional nonprofit organization devoted to eradicating the problem. “Too often, we don’t know our neighbors, so a house where people are kept for trafficking is more likely to escape notice.” In 2016, hundreds of missing kids were reported in Florida.
Awareness is the main factor when it comes to prevention. As parents (adults or family members), not leaving your kids alone is the main and most important protection against this type of crimes.
Many Orlando residents experience the Amber alerts, and although it might seem like a too-often event, the truth is that is not even near to the reality of an industry that operates underneath our noses, “underworld”. Many little ones are never found. Some are though, but their lives changed the moment they were taken and “I’m sorry” or blaming ourselves will never revert that.