Michigan House Republicans
COLUMN: Local human trafficking bust highlights need to better protect our children
RELEASE|June 6, 2024
Contact: Jaime Greene

By State Rep. Jaime Greene, R-Richmond

The Macomb County Sheriff’s Office recently made a major bust, raiding two massage parlors, two homes, and arresting at least 12 people for their involvement in a suspected human trafficking ring.

Human trafficking may seem like a far-away problem that happens in major cities and other countries, but the recent bust shows that it can happen anywhere.

According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, approximately one in seven runaways reported to them in 2022 were likely victims of child sex trafficking. Worldwide, the International Labour Organization estimates that 1.2 million children are trafficked annually.

These staggering statistics and the heinous crimes happening right in our backyard highlight the urgent need to address this crisis head-on.

As a mother and a state representative, I am deeply committed to addressing this problem. At the state level, we must consider enacting legislation, partnering with global tech corporations, and promoting outreach programs to combat human trafficking. However, the solution also lies in empowering parents and schools with the knowledge and tools to protect our children.

The internet, while a powerful tool for learning and communication, has unfortunately become a double-edged sword. Our children, with handheld mobile devices constantly at their fingertips, are increasingly at risk. Studies show that too much screen time affects the development of the frontal cortex in their brains, which hurts their ability to control impulses, manage emotions, and make decisions. All of this creates a vicious cycle of increased risk that feeds itself, making our kids more vulnerable to exploitation.

Traffickers often use social media apps to anonymously connect with and groom unsuspecting children. Meanwhile, children have become good at hiding apps on their phones, making it harder for parents to monitor their online activity.

Parental control software like Bark, Qustodio, and Net Nanny can help monitor children’s online activities and alert parents to potential threats. Additionally, open dialogue about internet safety fosters trust, making children more likely to report suspicious behavior.

Schools need to be able to manage phone usage, but many students and parents understandably feel that having a phone on hand helps them feel safer in their environment. That is why we are at an interesting precipice. While I hesitate to impose mandates, it is essential that every physical classroom be equipped with panic buttons. This will enhance safety without necessitating that every student carry a phone.

Computer science programs, soon to be offered at every Michigan high school per House Bill 5649, must not only teach technology but also educate students about safe online behaviors and the risks of sharing personal information. And Michigan’s School Safety and Mental Health Commission should be utilized to ensure a coordinated approach to combating trafficking and promoting internet safety.

In the Legislature, we must also consider enacting stronger laws to hold tech companies accountable, requiring stricter age verification and ensuring the rapid removal of harmful content.

The recent events in Macomb County serve as a stark reminder that human trafficking is not a distant issue but a pervasive threat in our own backyard. By empowering parents, schools, and communities with the necessary tools and knowledge, we can create a safer environment for our children.


Michigan House Republicans

© 2009 - 2024 Michigan House Republicans. All Rights Reserved.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.