Officials: Human trafficking a concern
There is one industry that is making more money than McDonald’s, Walmart and Google combined: human trafficking. Human trafficking is modern day slavery where men, women and children are forced to engage in commercial sex acts and/or labor services against their will. Human trafficking makes billions of dollars every year by victimizing millions of people around the world including in the U.S.
“It’s easy to go through our day-to-day lives in our towns without thinking about what’s going on under our noses,” Camille Place founder and human trafficking advocate Chris Ziebach said. “Women and children are being bought and sold all around us. It transcends all races, social classes and demographics and gender. There are no limitations to who is at risk.”
According to Camille Place’s website, traffickers exploit an estimated 1.5 million victims in North America alone.
Ziebach said the common age for children victims is between ages 11 to 15. For adults, it’s anyone under 60 years old.
Ziebach said in rural areas like Escambia County the most common type of sex trafficking is familial. For example, parents or grandparents pimping out their children or grandchildren.
Ziebach said sex trafficking victims are majority young girls but with boys it’s increasing. Some of the common signs of sex trafficking victims are they appear anxious, malnourished, they aren’t dressed properly for the season or dressed inappropriately for their age, or they are being controlled by an older man or woman.
Ziebach said most victims are bought and sold in so many cities that they do not know where they are currently or even what day of the week it is. If you were to approach a possible victim of sex trafficking, Ziebach said, they wouldn’t have an answer for what school they go to or where they are headed or have any form of ID on them.
Ziebach said people can keep an eye out for sex trafficking victims at these common locations: fast food restaurants, gas stations, and truck stops.
Ziebach said parents can keep their children safe from traffickers by monitoring their children’s cell phone use.
“There are various apps out there that are dangerous like Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook, where you can talk to people who you don’t know,” Ziebach said. “Those are dangerous. Parents need to monitor their children’s cell phones and be cautious of who they let into their child’s personal web.”
She also said it’s important to be vigilant of your surroundings. Ziebach said to always know where you parked your car and to not be distracted by your cell phone as you walk. She said traffickers often scope out for their next victims in public areas such as Walmart and McDonalds, so she said to keep an eye out for people who don’t have carts with them or don’t seem to be actively shopping.
For more information about how you can keep yourself and others safe from human trafficking, go to www.camilleplace.com .