National Human Trafficking Awareness Day

Today is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day and it comes during unprecedented times this year as many children of all ages head back to school virtually and online.

News 25’s Grace Boyles sits down with two community members that work to bring attention to the realities of human trafficking in the nation and here on the Gulf Coast.

The dangers of being lured by human traffickers online and on social media have become more common with many people across the world using these two resources more regularly due to the pandemic.

Educating the public on safe practices while online and on certain apps can greatly reduce the risk of interacting with human traffickers. Pass Christian Middle School Resource Officer Kyle Craig suggest parents check all their children’s social media apps that have chatting capabilities, not just the big three. “They’ll approach them on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter and they will immediately tell them to switch to a site that you wouldn’t expect to have social media applications. Because your mom might pick up your phone and go through your Facebook page, but she’s not likely to pick up you phone and go through your calculator not knowing that you have a calculator app that’s actually a social media app.”

While the entire month of January is dedicated to human trafficking awareness, January 11th is the day devoted to educating the nation about the number two crime in the country. Advocates for Freedom Founder and CEO Susie Harvill says for years the number of children that were sexually trafficked in the U.S. was estimated to be 100,000 to 300,000. More recently that figure has changed. “So, it has moved up to 500,000 to 700,000, thousand, children across this United States are being trafficked. I think that’s only the tip of the iceberg.”

Craig says because of social media, we have an attention-based society, leading kids to want to become what they call “Instagram famous.” Predators then prey on this need for recognition by offering opportunities that seem too good to be true. “I always talk about specifically modeling, acting, and singing and someone approaching you to do one of those jobs. And inevitably, there will be some lovely young lady in the room that just hangs her head because she realizes that she’s been having a conversation that she shouldn’t have been having.”

For more on human trafficking and how to help the cause you can go to advocatesforfreedom.org.

Categories: Featured, Local News, News

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