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January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month

According to the U.S. Department of Defense, about 25-million people are victims of human trafficking around the world.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. The goal of the campaign is to raise awareness about the different forms of human trafficking, also known as modern slavery, and educate people about the horrendous crime and how to spot it.

Human trafficking is a crime, in which force, fraud or coercion is used to compel a person to perform labor, services, or commercial sex. Victims can be anyone from around the world or right next door. That includes women and men, adults and children, citizens and noncitizens alike.

According to the U.S. Department of Defense, about 25-million people are victims of human trafficking around the world. Instability caused by natural disasters, conflict, or a pandemic can increase opportunities for traffickers to exploit others. During the COVID-19 pandemic, traffickers are continuing to harm people by finding ways to innovate and even capitalize on the chaos of the global health crisis.

Despite the nearly worldwide adoption of international and domestic norms to address and prevent human trafficking, traffickers continue to exploit men, women, transgender individuals, and children in the United States and around the world.

"We do see, locally, human trafficking in some of the massage parlors,” said Detective Caroline Holliday with the Greensboro Police Department. “A lot of those are foreign born victims that come here with the promise of being paid for legitimate services. They amount an unrealistic repayable debt. We don't get a lot of cooperation from those victims for a number of reasons.”

In the Triad-region, the Greensboro Police Department is working around the clock to put a stop to human trafficking and other crimes. Detectives in the Family Victims Unit are tasked investigating all cases of domestic violence, sexual assault, elder abuse and crimes against juveniles to include child abuse, neglect, sexual molestations, abductions and deaths. Detectives also work out of the Guilford County Family Justice Center to provide comprehensive services to people of all ages affected by violence.

"Locally, you'll see young ladies, through all kinds of different life circumstances, who might end up in prostitution or meet someone that they think is a healthy relationship to begin with and then that leads them down a path of just making bad life decisions," Holliday said.

Everyone can play a part in ending human trafficking. During National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, you might want to consider getting involved to help combat the different forms of human trafficking. If you are in the United States and believe someone may be a victim of human trafficking, call the 24-hour National Human Trafficking Hotline  at 1-888-373-7888 or report an emergency to law enforcement by calling 911. Trafficking victims, whether or not U.S. citizens, are eligible for services and immigration assistance.

The U.S. Department of State offers ways you can help fight human trafficking: 

  • Learn the indicators of human trafficking on the TIP Office’s website or by taking a training. Human trafficking awareness training is available for individuals, businesses, first responders, law enforcement, educators, and federal employees, among others.
  • Be a conscientious and informed consumer. Find out more about who may have picked your tomatoes or made your clothes at ResponsibleSourcingTool.org , or check out the Department of Labor’s List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor . Encourage companies to take steps to prevent human trafficking in their supply chains and publish the information, including supplier or factory lists, for consumer awareness.
  • Volunteer and support anti-trafficking efforts in your community .
  • Meet with and/or write to your local, state, and federal elected officials  to let them know you care about combating human trafficking and ask what they are doing to address it.
  • Be well-informed. Set up a web alert to receive current human trafficking news. Also, check out CNN’s Freedom Project  for more stories on the different forms of human trafficking around the world.
  • Host an awareness-raising event to watch and discuss films about human trafficking. For example, learn how modern slavery exists today; watch an investigative documentary about sex trafficking; or discover how forced labor can affect global food supply chains. Alternatively, contact your local library and ask for assistance identifying an appropriate book and ask them to host the event.
  • Organize a fundraiser and donate the proceeds to an anti-trafficking organization .
  • Encourage your local schools or school district to include human trafficking in their curricula and to develop protocols  for identifying and reporting a suspected case of human trafficking or responding to a potential victim.
  • Use your social media platforms to raise awareness about human trafficking, using the following hashtags: #endtrafficking, #freedomfirst.
  • Think about whether your workplace is trauma-informed and reach out to management or the Human Resources team to urge .
  • Become a mentor to a young person or someone in need. Traffickers often target people who are going through a difficult time or who lack strong support systems. As a mentor, you can be involved in new and positive experiences in that person’s life during a formative time.
  • Parents and Caregivers: Learn how human traffickers often target and recruit youth  and who to turn to for help in potentially dangerous situations. Host community conversations with parent teacher associations, law enforcement, schools, and community members regarding safeguarding children in your community.
  • Youth: Learn how to recognize traffickers’ recruitment tactics , how to safely navigate out of a suspicious or uncomfortable situations, and how to reach out for help at any time.
  • Faith-Based Communities : Host awareness events and community forums with anti-trafficking leaders or collectively support a local victim service provider.
  • Businesses: Provide jobs, internships, skills training, and other opportunities to trafficking survivors. Take steps to investigate and prevent trafficking in your supply chains by consulting the Responsible Sourcing Tool and Comply Chain  to develop effective management systems to detect, prevent, and combat human trafficking.
  • College Students: Take action  on your campus. Join or establish a university club to raise awareness about human trafficking and initiate action throughout your local community. Consider doing one of your research papers on a topic concerning human trafficking. Request that human trafficking be included in university curricula.
  • Health Care Providers: Learn  how to identify the indicators of human trafficking and assist victims. With assistance from local anti-trafficking organizations, extend low-cost or free services to human trafficking victims. Resources from the Department of Health and Human Services can be found on their website.
  • Attorneys: Offer human trafficking victims legal services, including support for those seeking benefits or special immigration status. Resources  are available for attorneys representing victims of human trafficking.