On Your Side: Human Trafficking Prevention Month

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — January is Human Trafficking Prevention Month, so on Tuesday, WATE 6 On Your Side talked with a FBI agent who investigates these crimes to learn more.

Something important to note, human trafficking does not necessarily involve moving a person from one place to another: Trafficking is defined as the illegal exploitation of a person.

FBI Knoxville reports that over the past decade, the FBI’s human trafficking investigations have been responsible for the arrest of thousands of traffickers and the recovery of numerous victims.

“Here in the United States, both U.S. residents and foreign nationals are being bought and sold like modern day slaves. Traffickers use violence, manipulation, or false promises of well-paying jobs or romantic relationships to exploit victims. Victims are forced to work as prostitutes or to take jobs as migrant, domestic, restaurant, or factory workers with little or no pay. Human trafficking is a heinous crime that exploits the most vulnerable in society.”

FBI Knoxville

A common misconception, that this is a crime that only impacts certain kinds of people.

“I think a common misconception about human trafficking is it’s all females, like a majority of females are victims of human trafficking. Although it is true a majority are, what we find though, overall, these victims come from low-income families.”

Neal Gruhn – Supervisory Special Agent Knoxville FBI Field Office

What can you do about human trafficking?

  • Talk to your children
    • Let them at least be aware there are people out there who are dangerous and could target them
  • Be aware of what your kids are doing online
    • It’s also good to know it’s not just kids who can be victims, adults can be too.
  • If you see suspicious activity, ask questions about what’s going on.

More to know regarding human trafficking:

Human trafficking can be broken down into two categories: Sex Trafficking and Labor Trafficking.

Supervisory Special Agent Neal Gruhn says victims can come from wealthy or low-income homes and can be any race or gender.

Another common misconception is that traffickers are usually strangers.

“Another big misconception about human trafficking is that traffickers only recruit people they don’t know, and in fact, what we’ve found is a majority of victims have been recruited by someone that they’re very close to. So, it could be family, it could actually be an intimate relationship like a couple, and a lot of times it’s somebody that they know.”

Neal Gruhn – Supervisory Special Agent Knoxville FBI Field Office

If you suspect someone is a victim of human trafficking, there is a national human trafficking hotline: 1-888-373-7888.

If you believe you are the victim of trafficking or have information about a potential trafficking situation, call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) at 1-888-373-7888. NHTRC is a national, toll-free hotline, with specialists available to answer calls from anywhere in the country, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can also submit a tip on the NHTRC website. 

If you believe a child is involved in a situation, submit a tip through NCMEC’s CyberTipline or call 1-800-THE-LOST. FBI personnel assigned to NCMEC review information that is provided to the CyberTipline.

For more information on human trafficking and how to talk to your kids, head to polarisproject.org.

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