Former President Donald Trump’s efforts to create an office dedicated to fighting sex trafficking have made an “incredible impact” over the past four years, according to the founder of a nonprofit organization focused on combating child sex trafficking.
Before Trump, “we’ve never had an office in the White House designated and dedicated to fighting sex trafficking, Jaco Booyens, the founder of SHAREtogether, said in an interview with Epoch Times affiliate NTD on Feb. 5. “No former president in the history of this country has used his or her platform to denounce the exploitation of children and then appropriate funding.
“So we’ve seen an incredible impact over the years, over the last four years, particularly toward the support for law enforcement.”
Last week, 64 people were arrested and two women were rescued in an anti-human trafficking sting in California’s Riverside County. The arrests were part of Operation Reclaim and Rebuild, an annual statewide operation, that “ran for four consecutive days before concluding on January 28, 2021,” the county’s Sheriff’s Department stated on Feb. 2.
“It’s a big orchestration, to execute a sting or a bust, like what we’ve just seen in California, and it takes months and months of planning and funding,” Booyens said. “And that’s why it’s very important for … local, state, and federal governments to support the fight against sex trafficking, because you cannot do it on your own.”
He noted that for such operations to succeed, they need to be able to be conducted in a way that they can have standing in court; some connections between the judicial system and the police have to exist.
Regular police officers, he said, aren’t trained to investigate, profile, or conduct that sort of an operation. It requires special training and a lot of resources and effort.
“We’ve seen a tremendous rise in the apprehension, the arrest of perpetrators and rescue of victims under the Trump administration, no question about it,” Booyens said. “In these cases that you’re seeing now such as California, and you’ll see some others coming out now, they’ve been nine, 10 months in the making under the Trump administration—in that mechanism of funding law enforcement appropriately, having special task forces.”
He said that because the Biden administration has only been in office for a few weeks, the outlook is unclear.
“Whether those policies and systems that were put in place … will remain or not, we don’t know,” he said.
“But under the Trump administration, we saw a massive and also a morale lift. There was a morale lift within the nonprofits, our organization, and the other 170 that we’re connected with. There was a general morale boost. We have support from the White House now. We actually now can see law enforcement departments talk to one another.”
Booyens explained that the type of interdepartmental communication necessary to track down child predators was seen for the first time during the Trump administration.
“For instance, when a child is tracked in let’s say, Dallas, that pimp or predator doesn’t keep that child in Dallas,” Booyens said. “Now let’s say we find her in Nevada. You now are asking the Dallas Police Department to talk to the Nevada police department and that historically has not happened.
“We saw that kind of an inter-department communication line be open because of the result of Ivanka Trump, President Trump, and then, of course, the other people in that administration who made trafficking a focus.”
Booyens also noted that operations to combat sex trafficking are still short of resources, adding that the current state of the crime is peaking because children are spending more time online because of COVID-19 restrictions.
Another alarming trend related to the escalation of this type of criminal activity is that there’s a portion of society that promotes the sexualization of children, he said.
“There is a large sector of our society, let’s just be real, that don’t see a problem with sexualizing children, with indoctrinating children in kindergarten with certain conditions and mindsets about sex and consent,” Booyens said.
“We’ve got multiple states in this country at the moment trying to lower their age of consent to 14, some have lowered it to 16. … Laws in those states are now in direct contradiction to statutory rape or in direct contradiction to the anti-sex-trafficking law in that state, which says a child 17 and under is a victim.”
He suggested that children need to be taught to recognize suspicious behavior and parents need to be genuinely engaged with the different communities, video games, or online activities their children interact with, in order to prevent others from introducing predatory information to them.
Jack Phillips contributed to this report.