Experts share warning signs for human trafficking victims

 

It's an alarmingly common global problem that even affects us here in Middle Tennessee.

Human trafficking affects 85 percent of Tennessee's counties.

The average child is sold for sex at 13 years old, but it doesn't always look like we think it does. For example, human trafficking doesn't always involve abduction. By definition, human trafficking is commercial sex by means of force, fraud or coercion.

In theory, someone can be a victim while still appearing to function normally in the rest of his or her life.

Some of the warning signs for victims include: Reclusiveness Running away chronically Unexplained absences at school Having hotel cards or car keys Having their hair and nails done Having money with no way of explaining why"I think as a parent you want to know what your child is doing on the internet. You want to know what your child is engaged in outside your home. Having that relationship where you can talk to your kids is probably going to provide you with the best information you can get," said Margie Quin, spokesperson for End Slavery Tennessee.

Quin said having a strong relationship with your child is the best way to prevent this, but if you see these warning signs, call law enforcement or a professional. Do not try to intervene on your own.

"That happens across the socioeconomic spectrum. We do think of children in poverty of being more susceptible because they don’t have resources, but this is not an issue that solely affects those that are impoverished," Quin said.

As awareness of human trafficking grows, so does the need for resources for survivors.

End Slavery Tennessee is a local nonprofit that sells jewelry handmade by survivors. Each piece has a unique number. You can register that number on their website and send a message to the survivor who made it.

Quin said the state of Tennessee is number one in the country for its response to human trafficking. While that's incredible, they need resources to rehabilitate survivors.

Any money you donate to the cause goes to counseling, medical and educational assistance for survivors.RESOURCES FOR HUMAN TRAFFICKING: Tennessee Anti-Slavery Alliance End Slavery Tennessee Free for Life International Rest Stop Ministries Rescue 1 Global Hope for JusticeCopyright 2018 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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Rebecca Cardenas is a Murrow-award winning journalist who joined News4 as a reporter in September 2017.

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