Recognize, respond, and refer — These are the key steps to identifying and assisting victims of human trafficking.
“This is a huge issue in our community. We need to bring people together and train them so they can recognize what’s happening in our community,” said Family Violence Coordinating Council Chair Stacey Sheppard.
This group is a part of the Council of Community Services.
Several 0branches of the Council and groups like Street Ransom gathered to coordinate an anti-human trafficking training seminar at the Salvation Army in Roanoke Tuesday.
Members of these organizations say it is important to teach others to recognize the signs of human trafficking.
“Traffickers target anyone who has a vulnerability in their life… whether that be love and attention because they don’t get it at home, or someone who comes from foster care,” said Street Ransom Communications Coordinator Rebekah Marquez.
Leaders of the Salvation Army said having eyes in the community is crucial for putting a stop to these crimes.
“It really takes a community effort to rescue somebody and to help save a life, so that the pattern does not continue itself in the future,” said Salvation Army Corp Officer Monica Seiler.
This past summer, the Salvation Army debuted its New Day Center for Youth. Coordinators say that this center has been instrumental in helping the fight against trafficking.
“We’ve had 94 intakes so far in our New Day Center, which is way more than we expected. A handful of them have been actively involved in trafficking,” said Seiler.
This crime is happening right here in Southwest Virginia, and community members are looking to make a change.
“We know that it’s a problem in our community, and we want to put a stop to it,” Sheppard said.