Law offers help for child victims of exploitation

Aug. 22—New legislation set to go into effect this weekend will give officers more tools to help child victims of abuse.

Senate Bill 775, which goes into effect on Aug. 28, establishes the Statewide Council on Sex Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation of Children, which will collect data on the subject and develop practices regarding response to these kinds of situations. It also allows quicker involvement from law enforcement officials who, if they have reasonable cause to believe the child is in imminent danger, can take temporary custody of the child without the consent of the child's parents.

Lonnie Bishop, an investigator with the Buchanan County Sheriff's Office, shared information and statistics regarding human trafficking, specifically domestically involving minors, from a partner study between THORN and Texas Christian University.

THORN is an organization that builds technology to defend children from sexual abuse. It was founded in 2012 by celebrities Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore.

This study surveyed 260 survivors of domestic violence and found that 45% of victims met their trafficker face to face and 55% met either via text, website or app.

Bishop said that when the sheriff's office gets involved with trafficking investigations, deputies work with social media companies such as Snapchat and Facebook to investigate.

"I encourage parents to know their kid's passwords," Bishop said. "What I'll do is I'll write a search warrant based on the information I have, then I'll send it to Facebook, I'll send it to Snapchat (etc). Then they will send me the contents of that account. After they send me the contents, then we can base our investigation on that. They'll be able to scrub those pictures off their servers and stuff. It's not a quick fix. It's going to take some time."

If residents would like to take a more in-depth look at the new laws being put into place, they can go to the Missouri House of Representatives site at or the Missouri Senate website at

Riley Funk can be reached at