Monday, 23 May 2011

Raising awareness of human trafficking

By Yessenia Anderson
EAGLE POINT, Ore.-- Dozens gathered Saturday to tackle an issue that is affecting young people both locally and across the world. The problem is human trafficking and the solution is not easy.

With more than 1,800 homeless youth in Jackson County, a panel of local experts discussed on going efforts to prevent these teens from ending up in a life of servitude.

"It's a huge problem, a tragic problem, and the answers are difficult," said Social Worker, Diana Nelson.

The Human Trafficking Seminar warned residents, brought together through local law enforcement and informed professionals like Nelson, on what signs indicate a person is victim of trafficking.

"Now I am wondering have I missed victims of trafficking in my work? So it's certainly going to help me to pay more attention to that issue," said Nelson.

Those who attended received a crash course on what human trafficking is and what makes Oregon so vulnerable to such a trend.

"We have all these different ports, we have water waves, we have Interstate 5, we have Interstate 84, there's a lot of activity coming in and out of Oregon," said Oregon Human Trafficking Task Force Deputy, Keith Bickford.

A panel of local non-profits and law enforcement officials answered tough questions from what resources are available to what signs are related to these crimes.

"A lot of girls are branded by their trafficker with cigarettes or heating up a hanger and branding an arm, back, neck or whatever," said Bickford.

In Oregon, police said they are encountering 3 to 5 people per week who are victims of trafficking. About 80% are women and half are children, making it that much more important to become informed.

"If we get all Oregonians on board and understanding what is going on and start educating them on what to look for then we could probably start eradicating this problem," said Bickford.

Bickford said more than 30 million live in modern day slavery world wide.

"It's a long road but I think we can do it," said Bickford. "Educate is what will help them prevail against these tragic crimes."

Raising awareness of human trafficking | KDRV

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