KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) —The Tennessee Department of Health is joining organizations across the state and nation to join in the Red Sand Project during Human Trafficking Awareness Week, July 26-31. In 2019, the National Human Trafficking Hotline identified 11,500 trafficking situations, with 180 cases reported in Tennessee.
Addressing human trafficking is a priority in Tennessee,” said Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey, MD, MBA, FAAP. “It is important we raise awareness of human trafficking through initiatives such as this because victims can experience significant trauma that has lasting impacts on them and their families.”
This is the third year that the TDH has been a part of the Red Sand Project. Participants in the project pour non-toxic red sand in sidewalk cracks as a way “to draw attention to the human trafficking victims that fall through the cracks of our society every day”. To find a Red Sand Project event near you, please reach out to your local health department, visit your local Welcome Center or set up your own event through the Red Sand Project.
In 2019, the Sweetwater Police Department joined with the Red Sand Project. They gave out bags of sand and allowed community members to fill in the crack of the department’s parking lot with red sand.
According to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, human trafficking is a demand-driven crime that involves exploiting a person for labor, services, or commercial sex acts. Women and children are especially impacted by the crime. Human Trafficking is also one of the fastest-growing criminal industries, with cases reported in all 50 states.
“Human trafficking must be stopped,” said Tennessee Department of Health Family Health and Wellness Division Deputy Medical Director Denise Werner, MD. “By increasing awareness of this hidden crime that can happen in our own communities Tennesseans can make a difference in the lives of victims of human trafficking.”
If you know someone who needs help to escape trafficking, contact the Tennessee Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-855-558-6484. If you suspect you have come into contact with a victim of human trafficking, you may call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 or text 233722. Staff members will identify resources in your community.