by: Allison Latos Updated:
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - On the streets of Charlotte, teenage runaways may think they’ll find a better life.
“We deal with thousands of juvenile runaways a year,” said Capt. Jacquelyn Hulsey with the Special Victims Division.
Child advocates said in no time, often within 48 hours from the time they left home, they are often approached, pulled into a dark world and sold for sex.
“Girls as young as 12-14. Boys as young as 11-14,” said Anne Pfeiffer, executive director of Pat’s Place.
“They’re more or less workers for those individuals,” said Hulsey. “It’s essentially a form of prostitution.”
Police and child advocacy center Pat’s Place are so concerned, they’re teaming up and launching a new program to save runaway kids from the dangerous crime ring.
“We are trying to identifying repeat runaways that are out here and vulnerable to sex trafficking,” Hulsey said.
Police are now identifying kids reported missing for a third time and taking them to Pat’s Place for in-depth interviews.
“What has been happening with them, who they've been with, what they've been exposed to,” Pfeiffer said.
The team hopes to intervene and get the kids off the streets before it's too late.
“If we don’t stop these kinds of things from happening and provide the service to help them heal, their lives will be changed forever,” Pfeiffer said.