by James A. Bacon

Virginia’s elected officials don’t agree about much. But they do share one common interest across the partisan divide: fighting human trafficking. Even in our hyper-partisan world, Democrats and Republicans still can unite over the proposition that sexual enslavement and exploitation is a bad thing.

In October of 2018, the Human Trafficking Institute released a report in which Virginia ranked sixth in the nation for active human trafficking cases. That comes from the Virginia Tech Collegiate Times. According to Sen Siobhan Dunnavant, R-Henrico, the National Human Trafficking Hotline reports that there were more than 950 reported cases of human trafficking between December 2007 and June 2017.

Do a Google search for “Virginia human trafficking,” however, and see what results you get. Most reporting on the subject comes from local TV stations. Virginia’s major newspapers have produced almost nothing worthy of note. Indeed, in the top four pages of search results, the only report listed from the Richmond Times-Dispatch was an article describing how the Henrico County police chief debunked social media reports of human trafficking in Short Pump.

If you want to know more about this silent social crisis, check out the latest issue of the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association’s VHHA Review, the entirety of which focuses on human trafficking. This edition recounts horrifying stories of trafficking conveyed to Virginia hospital personnel; describes what Virginia lawmakers, both Republican and Democratic, have done to strengthen human trafficking laws; and discusses what hospitals are doing to fight the scourge. Kudos to the VHHA communications staff — Julian Walker and Lindsey Lanham — for bringing attention to the issue.

I can’t mind-read the thoughts of Virginia’s newspaper editors and reporters, so I can’t tell you why they have given only modest attention to this tragedy. My suspicion is that they may be put off by the fact that icky cultural conservatives have played such a prominent role in highlighting the phenomenon, and it probably doesn’t help that the Trumpster jumped on the human-trafficking bandwagon earlier this year. Wouldn’t want to legitimize a “conservative” issue, would we?

Maybe the issue would get more attention if someone pointed out the powerful social justice angle: The victims of human trafficking are disproportionately black and Hispanic girls. Take a look at this chart, based upon Connecticut data, published by Love146, an anti-trafficking group:

Says Love146: “Due to the disproportionate number of children of color who are trafficked each year, human trafficking is a racial justice issue. It is time that we begin to have a comprehensive conversation about this matter in order to identify the root causes and be proactive about dismantling systems that perpetuate this crime.”

Sounds like a good conversation to have. Maybe the Washington Post, RTD, and other Virginia newspapers will figure out one day how to work human trafficking into their list of editorial priorities. Until then, we can be thankful that elected Virginia Democrats have gotten the message and they’re working with Republicans to get things done.

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7 responses to “Virginia’s Human Trafficking Horror”

  1. Reed Fawell 3rd Avatar
    Reed Fawell 3rd

    There are lessons our society refuses to acknowledge much less confront. The above chart in Jim’s post screams out one of those lessons that reaps great harm on our children that we refuse to address or even acknowledge – the collapse of culture among growing segments of our population. This culture collapse is the central driver of the explosion of sex trafficking in America, a virulent form of modern slavery. Here the central driver behind lost children is the collapse of the American Family within growing portions of our population. This collapse of American families gives rise not only to ever more victims, but also to the rise of out of control predators, those who traffic in the lost children who all to often then grow up to be lost adults as well, though many don’t survive childhood.

    Off course, the collapsing American family also is directly responsible for many of the chronic and growing ills that plague our modern society. A very fine article on this subject can be found here:

  2. LarrytheG Avatar

    Do we have facts and statistics from the State Police or other non-partisan agency?

    I do not doubt there is a problem but we need the dry facts first in front of advocacy groups with agendas. How is this group funded?

    And I’d be curious as to what the Dems/GOP have agreed on to deal with the issue. For than matter, how does human trafficing happen in contemporary society? Is this related to how pimps in cities prey on the young who are adrift from their families?

  3. LarrytheG Avatar

    ” Charity Navigator has awarded Love146 its Platinum Seal of Transparency in its latest report. [16]”

    That’s good enough for me – they’re legit. Their leader used to work for Mercy Ships.

  4. Peter Galuszka Avatar
    Peter Galuszka

    Yes. It certainly is.

  5. djrippert Avatar

    DC ranks as #1 and Richmond checks in at #9 in the most per capita human trafficking calls among America’s 100 most populous cities (from 12/7/2007 – 12/31/2016).

    1. Extraordinary numbers!

      To my mind, these numbers indict the editorial staffs of the Washington Post and Richmond Times-Dispatch. While both newspapers write extensively about the wrongs stemming from race-based slavery that ended 154 years ago, they are dramatically underplaying sex-based slavery of human trafficking occurring today right under their noses. The little coverage I have seen has emerged from cops-and-courts crime coverage. Neither newspaper has dedicated significant resources to exploring human trafficking as a criminalogical and sociological phenomenon.

      Why would that be? The Rosetta Stone for understanding the news coverage of newspapers staffed by progressives is this: Does the story advance the progressive narrative of minority victimization and white oppression?

      The human trafficking story conflicts with that narrative. Although minorities (blacks and Hispanics) number disproportionately among the victims, blacks number disproportionately among the perpetrators. (See This scourge cannot be laid at the feet of white racism, and it exposes the hypocrisy of those who fixate on the impact of the institution of slavery that ended in 1865 while ignoring the slavery that exists in this country, in their cities, today.

      There is a recurring meme on the Instapundit blog that goes, “Modern journalism is all about deciding which facts the public shouldn’t know because they might reflect badly on Democrats.” I would modify that slightly to “…because they might reflect badly on the progressive narrative.”

  6. Josh Martin with Love146 contacted me to supply the following data:

    “The US Department of Justice found that between 2008 and 2010, nonwhite children accounted for 77.8 percent of child sex trafficking cases they investigated. According to the US Census, 52% of children are designated as white, meaning that children of color are 4.3 times as likely to be exploited. As we noted in our blog, in Connecticut, where our US Survivor Care program is based, children of color are 3.5x more likely to be trafficked. 73 percent of all referrals to the state’s Department of Children and Families in 2018 were children of color, compared to 43 percent in the general population.”

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