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International Human Trafficking Organization Brings Missing Children Home

ITEMP founder and CEO Patrick Atkinson cuddles a rescued infant at the programs clinic for malnourished infants

ITEMP founder and CEO Patrick Atkinson cuddles a rescued infant at the programs clinic for malnourished infants

The international Institute for Trafficked, Exploited & Missing Persons tracks human trafficking victims, and their predators, to all corners of the planet.

MINNEAPOLIS, MN, UNITED STATES, August 21, 2014 /EINPresswire.com/ -- The two girls walking across the parking lot never saw the white van. Hidden off to the side, it was strategically placed where the men could see the girls; the girls never had a chance.

Every year, more than 800,000 children are reporting missing in the United States. “That’s one every 40 seconds,” said Patrick Atkinson, Founder and Executive Director of the Institute for Trafficked, Exploited & Missing Persons (www.ITEMP.org).

“When a child goes missing, it can take over two hours to get information about a missing child from a panicked parent,” Atkinson said. “This is completely unacceptable in a world where the first three hours are the most crucial in finding the child safely.”

According to the National Crime Information Center (NCIC), three in four abducted children who are murdered are dead within three hours of the abduction. “There is almost never a good outcome when a stranger-abducted child is gone more than a day,” Atkinson said. “We need well-publicized, effective systems that people can utilize immediately when their child has disappeared.”

Atkinson, a native of Bismarck, ND, founded the ‘Institute for Trafficked, Exploited & Missing Persons” thirteen years ago this week when, while working in Africa, he was forced to witness the kidnapping of women and children from their village. “I was working in rural Malawi and sleeping late at night when suddenly someone started pounding on the door, shouting out, ‘The transporters are coming. The transporters are coming.’ I thought it was a bus company,” Atkinson said.

But it wasn’t. Villagers learned that the ‘transporters’ were a convoy of foreigners who had sailed down the east coast of Africa, docked at the port of Mozambique, rented cattle trucks, and driven into rural Malawi, searching for isolated villages from which to take teenagers and young women. “We were held at gunpoint,” Atkinson said, “while the foreigners pushed the women into one truck and the young teenagers into another.”

“When they drove off into the bush, we tried to chase them, but we had a little Volvo while they had triple-axel cattle trucks. We didn’t have a chance,” Atkinson said.

When ITEMP was founded in 2001, it was the first contemporary dedicated anti-human trafficking organization in Central America as well as in middle-America. It quickly became one of the largest in the United States. ITEMP’s earliest efforts to create public awareness about the existence of modern-day slavery were largely met with shock and disbelief, as most Americans assumed slavery ended with Abraham Lincoln and the American Civil War.

“That’s not at all the case,” Atkinson said. “Today there are nearly 30,000,000 slaves in the world, and every 60 seconds someone new is forced into sexual or labor slavery somewhere in the world.”

During the past 13 years, ITEMP has grown to be a predominant force in the detection, investigation, recovery, and long-term rehabilitation of human trafficking victims in the United States, Central America, Southeast Asia, and Africa. Volunteer legal aides assist with the criminal prosecution of child predators and human traffickers in developing nations. ITEMP works in tight coordination with the international GOD’S CHILD Project programs to provide long-term health and education services to recovering victims.

Atkinson travels relentlessly to speak on college campuses and in communities around the country on the subject, and is frequently asked to be an expert federal court witness in cases related to street gang violence, cross-border human trafficking, child abuse and domestic violence.

“We do what we do for one very simple reason,” Atkinson said. “We want to get the children home. Every person who has gone missing is someone’s son, daughter, brother, sister, mother or dad.”

To learn how to prevent yourself, child or loved one from being victimized, or to see how you can become part of the solution, visit www.ITEMP.org online or, in the United States, call tollfree 1-888-BeA-Hero.

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Katherine Solstad
ITEMP- Institute for Trafficked, Exploited & Missing Persons
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