Human trafficking comes in many forms and affects millions of people in the United States.
West Memphis Police Department investigated three cases of juvenile human trafficking in the last month alone.
At a training program in West Memphis hosted by the group Families in Transition, everyone from law enforcement and attorneys to city leaders and child advocates learned what is considered human trafficking, how to spot it, and how to rescue the victim.
“We want to have a more compassionate response,” said John Rech, spokesperson for Families in Transition. “We want to be legally correct. We want to effectively rescue and save.”
More than half of human trafficking victims say their significant others were the perpetrators.
“You constantly hear about people being lured,” said Tawana Bailey, Community Outreach Coordinator for WMPD. “But I'm learning now it's mainly people that they know.”
Families in Transition wants to start teaching kids the signs of human trafficking in school and are in the talks with schools in Crittenden County about bringing the program Safe Dates to classrooms.
The program teaches students about what healthy romantic relationships and unhealthy ones look like.
Bailey works as a mentor to preteen and teen girls and said this program will help them stay safe.
“To me, I feel like it's too young to be dating, but times are changing, things are changing,” Bailey said. “Especially with the 14-year-olds, if they're getting to a point where this may be an option, we want to be there on the front end to provide them with information to help them remain safe.”
To learn more, visit the Human Trafficking Hotline website.
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