AUSTIN (KXAN) — A 2013 State Department report found that 27 million people are human trafficking victims worldwide.
The Justice Department says half of the victims are 17-years-old and under. Reports of suspected child sex trafficking jumped 846 percent between 2010 and 2015, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
January is human trafficking awareness month and Brooke Crowder, Executive Director of The Refuge, joins us in the KXAN studio to discuss their efforts.
“Located on 50 acres in a beautiful and restorative setting outside of Austin, Texas, The Refuge Ranch will provide trauma-informed, holistic care for the girls on-site,” said Crowder.
The Refuge gives female victims of trafficking a safe place to heal and recover. The ranch is under construction on 50-acres in Bastrop County to offer long-term help for girls ages 11 to 17. Each girl admitted would have her own unique plan for recovery.
“The common denominator among children at risk is their age. Twelve is the average age of a child that is lured into sex trafficking,” says Crowder. “It is runaways, high-risk teens, but it can also be my daughter.”
On Sunday from 5 to 8 p.m. at Life Austin there will be a benefit concert and silent auction that will raise awareness and funds for the continuation of The Refuge construction. Get tickets here.
Texas is the second highest in the nation for number of calls to the National Human Trafficking Resources Center. In 2015, there were 330 cases of human trafficking in Texas. Most of the victims were women and more than one hundred were minors.
Last year, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton launched the state’s first human trafficking unit.
If you think you’ve seen a missing child you can call the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children hotline at 1-800-843-5678.