On Your Side: Spotting signs of human trafficking
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - A teen, missing from Wisconsin, is safe after being rescued following a human trafficking investigation at a motel in Homewood. And parts of our area are a hotbed for this type activity.
This is something that happens far too often especially along I-20 between here and Atlanta. That area is known as the “sex trafficking superhighway”.
We don’t know the particulars yet in this Homewood case, other than the 14-year-old girl is ok, but human trafficking awareness advocates tell us there are signs to watch out for specifically in minors.
Look for malnourishment, signs of physical or mental abuse, avoiding eye contact. Also being frequently out of school or missing normal activities could be red flags.
We spoke with Jordan Giddens, a human trafficking survivor who works closely with Child Trafficking Solutions Project. Giddens says its common for human traffickers to brand or tattoo their victims.
“Sometimes you will see things like roses or someone’s name in a visible place meant to show ownership. Barcodes are also another similar tattoo that’s pretty often,” Giddens said.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Blue Campaign works with local and state authorities to combat human trafficking. DHS has a 24/7 hotline at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE. https://www.dhs.gov/blue-campaign
There’s also a National Hotline for Human Trafficking at 1-888-373-7888 or text “HELP” to 233733.
Giddens also offers this advice:
What to Do if you Suspect Human Trafficking?
- Call law enforcement with the knowledge that this training is not mandatory and some law enforcement agencies may be unprepared or unwilling to look into things. That’s why I recommend calling DHS Blue Campaign line because they have the expertise.
- Alternative number to call. National Hotline for Human Trafficking: 1-888-373-7888 or text “HELP” to 233733.
- Reach out for help. Visas and temporary documentation are available for trafficking survivors from other countries, and DHS/appropriate law enforcement can help survivors obtain those types of accommodations.
- Educate yourself on human trafficking, what is happening locally, and what organizations you can help volunteer or support.
- Educate others on human trafficking and what they can do.
- Follow Child Trafficking Solutions Project and USIAHT to learn more about Trafficking Free Zones and how they can help your entire city become prepared to handle and combat human trafficking!
- Encourage state and local officials to take official action!
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