January is Human Trafficking Prevention Month.
Pikesville, Md (KM) The US Department of Justice says every two minutes in the United States, a child is trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation. And the Center for Prevention of Abuse says there are an estimated 24 million people trapped in human trafficking.
January is Human Trafficking Prevention Month.. Maryland State Police spokesman Ron Snyder says while most trafficking involves the kidnapping children, it isn’t just kids who are victims. “Men, women, adults, minors, US citizens, legal permanent residents or nationals. Many times, they’re members of a marginalized community or other vulnerable individuals,” he says.
And these are the types of people targeted by human traffickers. “These are people that prey on people that are in dire situations in many cases,” he says. “By the time they realize the condition that they’re in, it’s too late,” says Snyder.
The State Police also say Maryland is a prime location for human trafficking. “There’s three major airports. There’s inexpensive bus transportation; easy access to I-95; train service along the east coast; and general disposable income. It’s makes it an attractive destination for traffickers,” Snyder says.
In addition to traffickers kidnapping or enticing people online to take part in the sex trade, there is also labor trafficking in such industries as homes, common retail establishments, dance clubs, childcare, elder care, construction, farming, landscaping, health and beauty services, hotels, factories, forestry or restaurants, Maryland State Police say.
Snyder says it’s also important for the public to take action to prevent human trafficking. He says parents need to educate their children about this danger. “Monitor your child’s online activity. See which social media sites they’re on. See who they’re talking to,”: he says.
There are also some “red flags.” that someone may be a victim of human trafficking, such as a lack of interest in previous activities; becoming isolated from regular friends; and an unexplained access to cash and other expensive items such as clothing and jewelry.
While January is Human Trafficking Prevention Month, Snyder says people should be aware of the signs of this criminal activity all year round. “It’s not just something that happens in January. This happens each and every day,” he says “We want to make sure people are aware of it not just this month, but all year long.”
If you see someone in danger, call 911. There are several hotlines for assistance and outreach. Residents can text HELP to 233733 (BEFREE). They can call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888, or the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-843-5678 (1-800-THE-LOST).
By Kevin McManus