January is Human Slavery and Trafficking Awareness Month. While you may think this subject has nothing to do with you, it has everything to do with you. If you are anyone who comes in contact with children on a regular basis, you could be the one to save a child in trouble.
Human trafficking is defined as controlling a person through force, fraud, or coercion to exploit the victim for forced labor, sexual exploitation or both. Domestic minor sex trafficking occurs when children, under the age of 18, are commercially sexually exploited through prostitution, pornography, and/or erotic entertainment.
Now considered a growing threat to the safety of children and teens, youth are being trafficked across the country and the DFW Metroplex. A University of Texas study estimates that as many as 79,000 Texas children are victims of human trafficking. It is the second largest criminal industry in the world, following drug dealing, and the fastest growing, according to the U.S. Dept. of Human Services.
Sarolyn Morgan, victim assistance specialist for Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcements (HIS-ICE), said traffickers are hiring and recruiting other teenagers to recruit for them. She urged teachers, medical personnel, fast food employees, hotel employees – anyone in contact with local youth – to call 9-1-1 if they suspect a young girl is being held against her will.
By Sonia Duggan • [email protected]