As a business owner, it is important to me to exercise corporate social responsibility and look out for my community at-large. I am often invited to conferences and summits and although I am not able to attend every one, I am very thankful to have answered the invitation to the Human Trafficking Summit held in Richmond, Virginia and sponsored by The Office of the Attorney General last week. In attendance and leading the opening prayer for the summit was Governor Glenn and First Lady Suzanne Youngkin.
Our current attorney general (AG) is Jason S. Miyares and he has a strong stance regarding taking action against human trafficking which affects all of our communities around the nation and even around the world. According to AG Miyares "Human trafficking is one of the fastest growing criminal enterprises in the country and is nothing more than modern-day slavery." AG Miyares issued a call to action to everyone in attendance and I intend to answer the call.
The first step in responding to this call is to educate the community. Here are some staggering statistics provided by the International Labor Organization (ILO) and United Nations:
29.7 million people are exposed to exploitation for forced labor or commercial sex
$150 billion is the annual profit for human trafficking on a global scale
78% of trafficking victims are adults
22% of trafficking victims are children (under 18)
49% of victims are women
23% of victims are girls (under 18)
21% of victims are men
7% of victims are boys (under18)
These are only a few of the statistics that were shared at the summit. The true extent of the ramifications of this egregious behavior are still being uncovered in speaking to rescued victims daily. Their stories are chilling. Be aware of the many methods traffickers use to gain access to their victims:
They seek you out on dating websites.
They follow your routine in neighborhoods and approach you.
They follow you on social media and befriend you.
They approach you in the mall and pretend to be friendly to get you to trust them.
They follow you home in your vehicle.
They convince you there is a modeling event at a certain location and get you to drop off your kids for an audition.
They convince you that your home life is poor and you should run away so they can help you.
Human traffickers are experts at what they do and they live, breathe, and sleep ideas of how to get the next victim. Be cognizant. Be diligent. Get educated. Talk to your loved ones about awareness and interacting with people they do not know. Their life may depend on it.
If you learn of this behavior occurring in your neighborhood or to your loved ones, report it to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center:
24/7 toll-free national hotline - 1-888-373-7888
Text "HELP" or "INFO" to "BeFree" (233733)