ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — In Roanoke, there’s a push to tackle human trafficking by showing people what to watch out for and what to do if you end up in a bad situation.
An event called “Human Trafficking Exposed” took place at Straight Street — a Roanoke youth organization — on Tuesday, Aug. 16 in order to educate the community about this global threat.
Bill Woolf — the founder of Anti-Trafficking International and one of the guest speakers at Tuesday’s event — says human trafficking is actually the second largest criminal enterprise in the world, adding that Roanoke is not immune to the issue.
“One of the reasons that Roanoke is such a vulnerable area is because it is very transient,” he said. “You do have I-81 that runs right through Roanoke.”
In addition, Woolf says Roanoke is a large city with a large population.
“Traffickers know that they can recruit individuals from communities like Roanoke and easily move them to Richmond, northern Virginia, even down into North Carolina to exploit them,” Woolf explained.
According to Woolf, you may be passing human trafficking victims on the street or in businesses and just not realize it. Therefore, he urges community members to keep an eye out for people who look like they really don’t want to be in a particular place but may not be able to leave.
In addition, trafficking victims are not always adults, which is why teachers, parents, and coaches are asked to double-check on kids who show behavioral issues. Woolf says acting out could be how they’re reacting to the trauma.
For more information about how to help prevent human trafficking in your community, visit the Anti-Trafficking International website.