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 Atlanta 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 New York Post article, at a press conference yesterday by U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, she announced that 33 people have already been arrested for sex trafficking in Atlanta leading up to the big game.
Last year, Minneapolis police said 94 men were arrested in sex trafficking stings in the 11 days leading up to the Philadelphia Eagles’ win against the Patriots, according to the Twin Cities Pioneer Press.
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 prostitution, drug 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 a short-term rental property next door,” stated Rumenap. “Home sharing sites like Airbnb and HomeAway have not done nearly enough to combat the unacceptable actions of their operators and guests. If they truly care about the surrounding communities and neighbors living adjacent to their rentals, they need to step up because their status quo hasn’t worked.”
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.