In 2018 alone, the National Human Trafficking Hotline received 14,000 calls and 5,147 cases were reported. Cases of sex and labor trafficking have been on the rise for the past decade in Florida.
Human trafficking is defined as using people by way of force, fraud or coercion. According to Tallahassee Police Department records, there were seven human trafficking cases last year, four involving minor victims.
Many people are unaware of sex trafficking in the Big Bend, but law enforcement and experts says it is very prevalent and has an impact on our community.
January is recognized as National Sex Trafficking Awareness Month. Florida A&M University’s Student Government Association spread awareness on how human trafficking is affecting the community during its Senate meeting last Monday. Student Senate President Rochard Moricette is a strong advocate for preventing sex trafficking.
“The Student Senate raised awareness on human trafficking and SGA wore blue to recognize this issue. This is a prevalent issue across America, and it dominates the college domain,” he said. “We urge students to take safety measures by utilizing the buddy system when they are going out and to share their location with friends before they leave their homes. Additionally, report suspicious activity and whenever they feel like they are in danger, call 911 immediately. The risks associated with human trafficking are great and should not be taken lightly.”
The Big Bend Coalition Against Human Trafficking and Capital City Youth Services are just some of the organizations that spread awareness and help victims in the Big Bend area.
“CCYS offers a multitude of services that are available to victims such as emergency shelters and street outreach programs. Depending on the needs of the victim, we have resources available immediately that we can provide to the victim. We also have collaborative partners that we work with if it out beyond our abilities,” Kevin Preiest, the CEO of CCYS, said.
The Survive and Thrive Advocacy Center encourages individuals to join the fight to end human trafficking. Learn about details online, attend trainings and events, share the message with others, volunteer and donate and join the BBCAHT advocates.
Tallahassee Police Department spokesman Damon Miller said, ‘Although a lot of people are not aware that human sex trafficking is big here in the area, TPD appreciates small tips from citizens because that small tip can turn out to be a big clue for us. We are continually working to make sure those criminals are placed in jail and we get help for the victims.”
You can contact the National Trafficking Hotline at 888-3737-888 or text “HELP” to 233733.