LAKE COUNTY, Fla. – The United States is once again ranked as one of the worst countries in the world for human trafficking.
According to law enforcement, Central Florida is a hotbed for this kind of modern-day slavery. And to make matters worse, victims are getting younger and younger, with pimps now recruiting elementary school-age children.
For most children, Central Florida is about the Space Coast launches, fun at the beach and theme park thrills. But human trafficking survivor Savannah Parvu, who was 11 years old when she was sold for sex, knows a much darker side.
Parvu was human trafficked by a family member.
“I grew up in Central Florida,” Parvu said. “She would take me with her to prostitute herself. Her drug dealer offered her $10 for me instead of her. And she said, ‘That’s fine, do whatever you want.’”
Parvu said. “It would all happen at his house or at hotels.”
Human trafficking statistics in the U.S. rank Florida as the third worst state behind California and Texas.
Crystal Blanton is a victims’ advocate with Marion County’s Human Trafficking Task Force. She says victims are getting younger and younger.
“It’s a definite problem,” Blanton said. “’Some of our youngest victims have been 9. So anywhere from 9 on up.”
According to a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services report, more than 300,000 American children are at risk for sexual exploitation. It’s also estimated 199,000 incidents occur in the U.S. every year.
Blanton said pimps commonly use Central Florida’s kid-friendly attractions to lure in children.
“Sometimes they are being recruited by other children,” Blanton said.
It’s happening at parks, malls and schools. Ocala police are even placing posters around campuses to educate students about the dangers.
According to law enforcement, the most powerful tool pimps use to recruit children are likely in your child’s hands right now.
Smartphones give kids quick access to social media, email, texts and chat rooms used to recruit.
“You honestly can’t start too young for looking for signs and being aware of what our children are doing specifically online, because that is a gateway for traffickers,” Blanton said. “If you see something, say something.”
Parvu’s been saying a lot.
She’s made several trips to Tallahassee pushing for a bill that would be require training for hotel workers to better spot human trafficking and potentially save lives.
Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the bill a couple weeks ago.
“I feel like if it would’ve helped me. It will help other people now,” Parvu said.
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Stanford researchers develop new stretchable battery to safely power wearables
Researchers at Stanford have invented a new type of soft and stretchable battery that will power next-gen wearables.
Soon, there might be a new type of stretchable battery that can power the upcoming wearable devices. Researchers at Stanford have invented a new type of soft and stretchable battery that will power next-gen wearables.
The new type of battery basically relies on a special type of plastic to store power. The researchers claim that the process is safer than the flammable formulations used in conventional batteries.
“Until now we haven’t had a power source that could stretch and bend the way our bodies do, so that we can design electronics that people can comfortably wear,” said chemical engineer Zhenan Bao, who teamed up with materials scientist Yi Cui to develop the device.
For some time, lithium-ion batteries have used polymers as electrolytes, which is basically the energy source that transports negative ions of the battery to the positive pole. However, the polymer electrolytes come with gels that, in some cases, could leak or burst into flame.
In order to combat this, the Stanford researchers have developed a polymer that is sold in nature and it is stretchable. The material is still able to carry an electric charge between the battery’s poles.
The researchers have revealed that the experimental battery maintained a constant power output even when squeezed, folded and stretched nearly twice its original size. Currently, the prototype is a thumbnail-sized material and it stores roughly half as much energy as found in a similarly sized conventional battery. The researchers are working to increase the density of the stretchable battery and they will run future experiments to demonstrate its performance outside the lab.
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