January 29, 2018 | SCP Issues Press Release Ahead of Super Bowl: “Parents should be on alert with ‘guest strangers’ in communities”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Monday, January 29, 2018
Stacie Rumenap
President, Stop Child Predators
srumenap@stopchildpredators.org
(202) 248-7052

Child safety advocate raises concerns about Airbnb rentals for Super Bowl given reports of assault, prostitution, drug dealing and violence associated with home-sharing site

Stop Child Predators: “Parents should be on alert with ‘guest strangers’ in communities”

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – National child safety advocacy group, Stop Child Predators, raised concern today with the expected increased usage of Airbnb, HomeAway and other short-term rentals during the Super Bowl warning parents in the Greater Minneapolis area to take extra precaution to keep their children safe. 

“With thousands expected to rent out homes to visiting Super Bowl fans, complete strangers will be infiltrating homes in neighborhoods across the city,” Stacie Rumenap, President of Stop Child Predators.  “Parents should be on heightened alert for out-of-town visitors in their neighborhoods during the week leading up to the big game and speak with their kids about what to do if approached by a stranger.”  

According to a [Minneapolis] Star-Tribune article last fall, an Airbnb guest staying at a rental in Minnetonka, Minnesota, was charged with an attempted sexual assault of a seven-year-old living in the house the family rented.  

Over the last year, there have been numerous stories in cities across the country of Airbnb rentals being used for prostitutiondrug trafficking and out-of-control parties, which have led to violence and even shootings in residential neighborhoods.  

Rumenap said her group, Stop Child Predators, has started raising awareness of the potential negative impacts of short-term rentals.  She said the new trend of commercial Airbnb hosts buying up residential homes and apartments to rent out as ‘illegal hotels’ has raised concerned with local community leaders across the country as neighborhoods cope with a weekly turnover of transients and strangers coming and going from their communities.  

“Tools like sex offender lists are becoming obsolete as there is no safeguard in place to stop a child predator from renting an Airbnb property next door,” stated Rumenap.   “Airbnb certainly does not condone such bad behaviors through their site, but they also have not done nearly enough to combat the unacceptable actions of its operators and guests.” 

According to a report by U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking, major events like the Super Bowl generate an “increase in tourists seeking entertainment, including commercial sex, increasing the potential risk for exploitation and human trafficking.  Traffickers are opportunistic hunters, and they see major sporting events and the hundreds of thousands of people who flock to sports venues as an opportunity for huge profits with very little risk of penalty or punishment.”

Stop Child Predators encourages neighbors of Airbnb rentals during Super Bowl Week to be on alert and call authorities if they suspect a criminal activity such as prostitution, human trafficking, public drunkenness, illegal drug usage or the endangerment of a minor is occurring in a rental unit in their community.   

January 22, 2018 | Stop Child Predators Joins #NeighborsFirst Coalition

This week Stop Child Predators joined the #NeighborsFirst Coalition at an event at the National Press Club to urge the D.C. Council to pass the Short-Term Rental and Affordable Housing Act. The legislation would, SCP argues, provide crucial protections for children from sexual predators. 

SCP President Stacie Rumenap spoke at the event and issued the statement below: 

       Hello, my name is Stacie Rumenap and I’m the President of Stop Child Predators, a nonprofit organization that combats the sexual exploitation of children and represents and protects victims nationwide. I’m here to speak today on behalf of those who can’t speak for themselves, the most innocent and precious among us—our children.

      Government officials, community leaders, and parents—myself included—have a duty to protect our children. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, one in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before the age of 18. The United States Justice Department reports that “persons under 18 years of age account for 67 percent of all sexual assault victimizations reported to law enforcement agencies.” Sixty-seven percent.

       This is heart-breaking and unacceptable.

       Challenges to raising children aren’t new. Every generation of parents have faced them. But the latest challenge is certainly different than most parents could have prepared for, and that’s the influx of Airbnb short-term rentals in neighborhoods. 

      This influx is causing a revolving door of strangers coming and going from these properties. Neighborhood safety tools like sex offender lists are becoming obsolete as there’s no safeguard in place to stop a child predator from renting an Airbnb property next door. 

      According to a [Minneapolis] Star-Tribune article last fall, an Airbnb guest staying at a rental in Minnetonka, Minnesota, was charged with an attempted sexual assault of a seven-year-old living in the house the family rented.  

     Over the last year, there have been numerous stories in cities across the country of short-term rentals being used for prostitution, drug trafficking, and out-of-control parties, which have led to violence and shootings in residential neighborhoods.

    DC councilmembers have been considering—since last January—the Short-Term Rental and Affordable Housing Act, a piece of legislation that could have an enormous impact on protecting our children and neighborhoods.  

     Today, we’re calling on the DC City Council to enact this legislation before our city experiences the same types of incidents other cities have experienced. The D.C. City Council should stop delaying and put this legislation on the agenda and pass protections for families and children from the increasing dangers of illegal hotels operating in our residential neighborhoods. 

                         SCP President Stacie Rumenap at #NeighborsFirst press conference in Washington, DC 

                         SCP President Stacie Rumenap at #NeighborsFirst press conference in Washington, DC 

Archive: November 3, 2017 | SCP Letter to Canadian Parliament on Illicit Trade

For letter .png

November 3, 2017

The Honorable William D. “Bill” Casey

House of Commons
Room 552-D Centre Block
Ottawa, ON
Canada
K1A 0A6

Dear Mr. Chairman:

I write on behalf of Stop Child Predators (SCP), a non-profit organization based in Washington, DC, to express our concerns over the unintended consequences of plain packaging of tobacco products that will certainly exist if Senate Bill 5—a bill that seeks to amend the Tobacco Act and the Non-Smokers’ Health Act—passes as currently drafted. While we do not oppose all tobacco control, we do oppose tobacco control that may lead to increased criminality and fails to achieve the desired objective. 

SCP supports a variety of measures that combat the sexual exploitation of children—many of which have been enacted in Canada—including enacting long prison sentences for convicted adult sex offenders and sex traffickers, fighting the proliferation of child pornography, passing tougher penalties for enticement and luring crimes, and embracing common-sense approaches to prosecuting cyberbullying and sexting, among other community safety issues. 

It is not surprising that organized criminal gangs sell cigarettes to minors. Nor is it surprising that these same gangs use children to sell and transport illegal cigarettes. Mostly because children will not be arrested if they are caught.

What is surprising and very alarming, however, is that law enforcement often finds that illicit cigarette trading funds more serious forms of crime, including trafficking and exploitation of children. And unlike cigarettes or drugs, people can be traded over and over again.

The illicit trading of tobacco is the world’s most widely smuggled legal substance and is a multibillion-dollar business that stretches from counterfeiters in China and Russia to Indian reservations in New York and warlords in Pakistan and North Africa.

According to a Forbes report, Canada is considered a primary source for contraband cigarettes being smuggled worldwide. Coming in close behind is human trafficking and illicit migration, which according to the United Nations is one of the fastest growing criminal activities worldwide.

In the United States, an estimated one out of six endangered child runaways reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children were likely victims of sex trafficking. Worldwide, children are bought and sold for sex every single day. It is estimated that the industry brings in over $100 billion annually. It thrives because there is a serious demand for commercial sex with minors. There are 20.9 million victims of human trafficking globally, with 26% of them being children, according to the International Labour Organization.

Dr. Louise Shelley, Director of the Terrorism, Transnational Crime, and Corruption Center at George Mason University, is an expert in illicit trade. This past summer, Dr. Shelley testified before the U.S. Senate Commission on Security & Cooperation in Europe in which she linked illicit cigarette trade to other crimes. “What [these crimes show us] is that there is a convergence of different crimes, and also that the cigarette trade often serves as what I call venture capital for other forms of serious crime, so that the money that you get from this petty trade that you can start with leads you to even higher revenue streams that can have very corrosive impact.”

Other evidence suggests that drug cartels—who also smuggle cigarettes—engage in kidnapping for ransom, extortion, human trafficking and other crimes to augment their incomes, according to a report by the Center for Strategic & International Studies.

During a hearing on the threat posed by the convergence of organized crime, drug trafficking, and terrorism before the Judiciary Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives,  investigators in Europe found that money gangs make from illegal cigarettes finances drugs, guns, and human trafficking. In one operation, law enforcement across Europe confiscated 1.5 million illegal cigarettes along with 600 kilograms of cocaine, 200 kilograms of heroin and 30 children who were being trafficked for the sex trade.

Canadian officials have also warned about profits obtained through illicit trade. According to Public Safety Canada, “The cycle of production, distribution, sale and end-user of contraband tobacco is a crime driven by greed and an opportunity for criminal enterprises to expand their reach. As such, criminals have become well networked and are involved in all aspects of the contraband tobacco cycle.”

As you are aware, human trafficking relates to a number of industries in Canada, including construction, farm labor, sex trade, service sector, and even child care, according to law enforcement agencies. The rise of human trafficking in Canada prompted the Canadian Crime Stoppers Association and Public Safety Canada to launch a program in 2010 to solicit tips to combat the problem across the country. Seven years later, the problem continues to grow.

We appreciate your efforts to standardize cigarette packaging, but are concerned that if S.B. 5 is implemented, you unwittingly help fund the black market for cigarettes which too often leads to the financing of narcoticshuman trafficking, and terrorism.

It would be a pleasure to appear before your committee to discuss this matter further. Feel free to contact me if I may answer any questions regarding this issue or any other child safety matter at (202) 248-7052 or srumenap@stopchildpredators.org.

Sincerely,

Stacie D. Rumenap

President, Stop Child Predators 

Archive: June 22, 2017 | Joint response to U.S. Supreme Court's Ruling in Packingham v. North Carolina

A joint response from Stop Child Predators and Shared Hope, co-amici in supporting the North Carolina statute in Packingham v. North Carolina:

“North Carolina attempted to protect children from online sex abuse and predation by placing certain social-media restrictions on a class of persons who pose a heightened risk of committing sex crimes - registered sex offenders.  Although Facebook and other social-media sites could do a lot more to police their own traffic, nothing those sites do could have the kind of deterrent effect that a state statute, carrying the threat of prison time or a fine, will have.  The decision in the Packingham case is unfortunate but it’s important to note that the Court’s reasoning was not unanimous. Justice Alito’s concurring opinion, which was joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Thomas, presented a forceful defense of the compelling interest that states have in protecting children from recidivist sex offenders online. The state statute was ultimately viewed as too broad but the Court was clear that a narrower statute could yield a different result.  As organizations committed to strengthening state laws protecting children from sexual abuse and sex trafficking, Shared Hope and Stop Child Predators will continue to explore ways children can be protected online that are consistent with First Amendment rights. We have seen the crime of sexual exploitation and sex trafficking, and the offenders, moving in large numbers to the internet. We must do what we can to protect our children in that space, as we do in our physical spaces.”