CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Charleston County is identified as the fourth highest county with reported human trafficking incidents, according to a 2021 report, and Dee Norton Child Advocacy Center is addressing the matter with its IMPACT program.

Dee Norton is Charleston County’s leading resource in abuse prevention and child protection, and its IMPACT (Improving Multidisciplinary Partnerships to Address Child Trafficking) program continues to advance and support the area’s response to youth sex trafficking with interventions to lessen the chronic impacts of abusive behavior.

“The value of the IMPACT Program is that we work as a team,” says Rachael Garrett, Dee Norton Community Programs Director. “When a child has been identified as a potential victim, we immediately meet with our multidisciplinary partners to gather as much information as we can, including the Department of Juvenile Justice, the Department of Social Services, and Law Enforcement; we then work collaboratively to create an individualized action plan to help serve the victim and protect them from future harm.”

Dee Norton officials presented steps to identify and protect youth from sex trafficking:

  • Communication – Children and parents should both be educated about the dangers of sex trafficking; making sure children are comfortable in having difficult conversations with their parents.
  • Recognize warning signs – Being aware of warning signs that may present heightned risks of being victimized.
  • Raise awareness – Increasing awareness of child sex trafficking among family, peers and communities on the signs and relevant risk factors of child sex trafficking is important.
  • Report suspicions – Suspected child sex trafficking can be reported to local law enforcement and/or The National Human Trafficking Hotline.

Visit deenortoncenter.org to learn more about recognizing signs of sex trafficking or Dee Norton’s IMPACT program.