January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month. January 11 is an official day of observance to shed light on the worldwide impact of human trafficking. In participation, Canopy Children’s Solutions’ South Mississippi Child Advocacy Center (CAC) will host a one-hour observance ceremony on Thursday, January 11, 2018, at the Knight Non-profit Center in Gulfport to highlight the truth about human trafficking.
The observance will include comments from Harrison County District Attorney, Joel Smith, Rene Davis from the Center for Nonviolence and Beth McFayden, Assistant District Attorney for the 2nd Judicial District. Anyone interested in attending should RSVP to Krystle Hilliard, CAC Director, by calling 228-868-8686. The event will begin at 1:00 p.m. Attendees are encouraged to wear blue, the signature color of human trafficking.
About Human Trafficking
Despite efforts to combat trafficking across the globe, this heinous crime continues to grow at an alarming rate. Estimates indicated human trafficking affects more than 30 million individuals worldwide. According to the U.S. State Department, 600,000 to 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders every year, of which 80% are female and half are children. Human Trafficking Awareness Day was implemented to raise awareness among Americans that human trafficking does not just happen in other countries, but in communities across the United States.
Between January 2008 and June 2010, the FBI investigated 2,515 suspected incidents of human trafficking in the United States. The National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline received 20,424 calls and had 5,748 cases of trafficking reported in 2016 alone. Trafficking by nature is a hidden crime that usually goes unnoticed; these numbers represent those cases that have been identified, but say nothing about the countless victims suffering out of sight. Trafficking often preys on adolescents who are extremely vulnerable, particularly those who have involvement in the foster care system, but it can happen to anyone.
Human trafficking is not solely motivated by sexual exploitation, which makes up nearly 80 percent of documented trafficking crimes. People are also trafficked for black market organ harvesting and forced labor. Estimates show the global trafficking industry generates more than $32 billion a year—more than Nike, Google or Starbucks.
Lastly, trafficking doesn’t just occur in big cities. The Interstate 20 corridor, which runs through the center of Mississippi, has been dubbed the “sex trafficking superhighway.” In fact, the CAC has been a driving force in a number of trafficking cases involving children along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. In 2016, the CAC helped host a series on professional education seminars on child exploitation and human trafficking to raise awareness to this growing crime.
The CAC encourages everyone to show support by wearing blue on January 11 and to upload photos to social media using the hashtag #HumanTraffickingAwareness.