Tim Ballard, CEO and founder of Operation Underground Railroad and a member of the US Advisory Council to End Human Trafficking, highlights the aspects of how the pandemic effects trafficking. In March 2020, the FBI warned school closures would heighten the risk of exploitation.
Ballard indicates a lack of infrastructure in the home leads to more exploitation. He shares that the United States is the top consumer in the world for child exploitation material. Ballard highlights the statement from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, "In the first quarter of 2020, NCMEC became aware of predators openly discussing the pandemic as an opportunity to entice unsupervised children into producing sexually explicit material. At the same time, we experienced an explosion in reporting to our CyberTipline from both the public and electronic service providers, all while transitioning to a teleworking environment."
CyberTipline Reports have increased 90.46%, or by about 6 million in real numbers, compared to the same time last year for online solicitations. Ballard expresses the importance of spreading true information and educating parents, teachers and as many possible people that have children in their care about the threats of human trafficking.