Awareness of human trafficking more important than ever
FRI.| 01-29-21 | FEATURES
January is recognized as National Human Trafficking Awareness Month. This recognition provides an opportunity to spread awareness and education about human trafficking. The North Carolina Department of Public Safety ranks human trafficking as the second most common criminal enterprise in the state and North Carolina is also in the top ten states of reported cases. Recently, the Rose community was impacted by human trafficking and the devastation it caused. A Rose student passed away from an apparent drug overdose on Dec. 30, 2020. The teenager was being trafficked and forced against her will to engage in acts of prostitution.
There are multiple ways individuals can get involved in spreading awareness and supporting groups that educate on the topic, such as donating to human trafficking awareness organizations or even attending classes/meetings about trafficking and online safety.
“Students can get involved by first learning what human trafficking is,” community outreach coordinator for NC Stop Human Trafficking Melinda Sampson said. “But also, when you’re talking about human trafficking prevention, peer to peer organizations help youth more than just me talking to young people about being safe online.”
When watching out for signs of trafficking in individuals around you, some major signaling can be malnourishment, avoiding eye-contact or social interaction with others, physical signs of abuse or injuries, tattoos branding the neck/lower back and poor physical or dental health. To protect oneself, the knowledge of the tactics traffickers use such as, manipulation, charm, deception and lies can help detect danger. A highly suggested way to stay safe in situations such as these, is to keep aware of your surroundings.
“We have Human Trafficking 101 which is the basics of human trafficking; we also have webinars around the intersections,” Sampson said. “We have caregiver empowerment sessions, how to keep kids safe online and how to talk to kids about boundaries, consent and porn.”
A major resource that NC Stop Human Trafficking tries to provide to the community is the human trafficking hotline number. It is a phone number that is entirely confidential, toll-free and available 24/7 with over 200 different languages offered. The number is 1-888-373-7888, and anyone who is being trafficked, sees someone who is showing signs of being trafficked or sees someone who has been reported as a trafficker is urged to call.
“Anybody involved in commercial sex and under the age of 18 are automatically victims of sex trafficking,” Sampson said. “Force, fraud or coercion doesn’t need to be proven, they don’t need a third party controller and they’re entitled to resources and help if they need it.”
Graphic by Emmie Brooks
Over the past two weeks, the NC Stop Human Trafficking group collaborated with Beauty Bar Medispa in Greenville for a live auction to raise funds to go towards this cause. Support groups and organizations such as NC Stop Human Trafficking and Pitt County Coalition Against Human Trafficking host webinars and livestreams to continue informing the community about trafficking. NC Stop Human Trafficking presents at least two of these educational webinars a month. The link to register for these webinars is https://encstophumantrafficking.org/virtuallearningopportunities/.
“NC Stop Human Trafficking has a vision of the state freeing of human trafficking and maintain the vision by using the power of communities to stop human trafficking,” Sampson said.
The Rose community has experienced recent hardship due to trafficking and spreading awareness is a great way to prevent something such as this from occurring again. If you or anyone you know need help, do not hesitate to call 1-888-373-7888.