Brittney Lofthouse – Contributing Writer
In 2019, the FBI received more than 420,000 reports of missing children, according to data from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC), a national resource center for information on the issue.
While the majority of missing children return home safely, some never do. Of almost 26,300 runaways reported to the NCMEC in 2019, one in six were likely victims of child sex trafficking, according to the center’s website.
In 2019, the United States Marshal Services (USMS) helped recover 295 missing children based on requests for assistance from law enforcement and has contributed to the recovery of a missing child in 75 percent of cases received. Additionally, of the missing children recovered, 66 percent were recovered within seven days of the USMS assisting with the case.
Since its partnership with National Center for Missing and Endangered Children began in 2005, the agency has recovered more than 1,800 missing children.
With stories about missing children becoming more and more common, a group of local residents joined the national initiative to bring awareness to the “Save Our Children” movement. The inaugural Save Our Children event in downtown Franklin on Sunday afternoon featured live music and offered resources and information for parents from groups dedicated at raising awareness and prevention of child trafficking.
Operation Wolf Eyes was one of the vendors at the event, providing information to families. Operation Wolf Eyes’ purpose is to help victims to get out of human trafficking. They work to share information to bring awareness and help connect victims with organizations that provide aftercare.
Blake Arnold, Youth Pastor for First Baptist Church was one of the main organizers of the event and said that he wanted to help with the event to equip parents with the tools needed for prevention.
The pictures and names of missing children were on display at the event and a vigil was held to remember them and their families and the search and efforts to return them home continue.
If you or someone you know is a victim of human trafficking, you can call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 ( TTY: 711), text 233733 (Text “HELP” or “INFO”)