Part 2 The Silent Crime, and where to turn

This is the second part in a pair of news pieces on the subject of the Silent Crime, or Human Trafficking. I spoke with Jan Edwards author and educator on the subject, and she emphasized no matter how difficult, responsible adults must talk to their children about risks they face.

“It’s ok for it to be uncomfortable. I just encourage people to be brave, and really step out, and take a stand for their kids. “

A typical pattern is for a predator to develop what feels like a genuine relationship with a child, both online and in person, and then use coercion, or eventually threats, to separate him or her from home. Jan tells parents, the more their children share with them, the safer they will be.

“There are people that are highly trained, very skilled manipulators, and it’s gonna sound sound so sweet, you’re gonna want to go.”

She mentioned those in the “trade” think of their victims as “the product being sought after and being bought and sold. If we can educate them, and really have our children understand that they have far more value than what some one else is promising.”

Jan again stressed the importance of parents empowering their children

“to discern whether some one really is that person on the other end of the facebook, or Twitter or Instagram page, or not, and to have them question.”   That questioning, and outright refusal to meet in person may be what saves a child’s life.

While abductions by a family member often begin a missing child case, up to ninety percent of them are considered endangered runaways. Of the nearly 25,00 runaways reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in 2017, one in seven of them were likely victims of child sex trafficking.

Three other programs offered through the NCMEC have become more well know to the public.

AMBER Alert began in 1996 and is a voluntary partnership between law-enforcement agencies, broadcasters, transportation agencies, and the wireless industry, to activate an urgent bulletin in the most serious child-abduction cases. The goal of an AMBER Alert is to instantly galvanize the entire community to assist in the search for and the safe recovery of the child.

Team Adam, since 2003, provides rapid, on-site assistance in cases of critically missing children, has been deployed more than 1000 times.

Project ALERT®, has been providing technical assistance and outreach regarding long-term missing child cases and families, communities, criminal justice, and forensic professionals since 1992.

Another resource Jan Edwards mentioned is Team CFSI, or the Center for Search and Investigation. It is a network of licensed investigators and volunteers who offer their services pro bono to help families locate missing children.

“They work in tandem with the police officers, and I’ve personally sent three missing children to them, that they have found.” Jan’s organization, Paving the Way, remains focused on prevention and can be reached at “”. Websites for each of these groups whose goals are keeping children and teens safe are included with this story on





Story By

Bonnie Ralston

Bonnie Ralston is the Assistant Station Coordinator at WVLS and a Highland County news reporter. She began volunteering at Allegheny Mountain Radio in the fall of 2005. In 2006 she became an AMR employee and worked in Bath County for eight years as the WCHG Station Coordinator and then as the news reporter there. She began working in radio while in college and has stayed connected to radio, in one way or another, for more than thirty years. She grew up in Staunton, Virginia, while spending a lot of time on her family’s farm in Deerfield, Virginia. She enjoys spending time outside, watching old TV shows and movies and tending to her chickens.

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