Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Large Crowd Attends Human Trafficking Program in Louisville

Human trafficking is second only to the drug trade as the largest criminal activity in the world.
Estimates indicate that there are 100 to 300 thousand at risk children in the United States alone. Particularly at risk are girls from the ages of 12 to 14 and boys from the ages of 9 to 12.  Last year there were 31000 cases prosecuted in the United States.

Human trafficking was the topic of conversation on Monday night as Jodi Dyess of Free International spoke to a large group at the First United Methodist Church in Louisville.

Dyess is the Student Outreach Awareness Director for the organization based in Las Vegas, although Dyess is a native of Mississippi. The organization conducts assemblies across the country in schools in an attempt to reach at-risk children and to educate the public. 

Dyess was quick to point out the difference between human trafficking and human smuggling. Trafficking involves the coercion by fraud or force of individuals for labor or sex purposes against their will or for those under age. Dyess noted that unfortunately, familial trafficking is one of the largest problems and is usually tied to drug use and abuse by parents. 

He indicated there were several signs to look for when concerned about a child or a person who may be a victim of human trafficking. This includes: unexplained absences from school or work, changes in behavior, sudden access to money, changes in appearance and dress and signs of depression or withdrawal. Dyess indicated that for most of us, the best thing we can do when we suspect a case of human trafficking is to contact authorities. 

Two specific hotlines were provided in the training: the Human Trafficking Hotline is 1-888-3737-888 and while this is a national number it will provide almost immediate contact with local authorities. In Mississippi, the number for Mississippi Child Protective Services is 1-800-222-8000. To find out more about human trafficking and the group Free International, you may visit their website at freeinternational.org.