January is National Human Trafficking Prevention and Awareness Month and it’s a time to bring awareness to one of the biggest public health concerns in Tennessee.
Tuesday was recognized as National Human Trafficking Awareness Day and it allows people to be more vocal about the issue. According to the Tennessee Department of Health, through mid-December 2021, the TBI’s Human Trafficking Hotline received 1,185 tips or leads related to human trafficking concerns.
TDH encourages Tennesseans to learn the red flags, risk factors, and resources for human trafficking that could help save a life.
“Human trafficking continues to affect every corner of our state,” said Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey. “It is important we take every opportunity to raise awareness of human trafficking and identify victims and perpetrators quickly. Human trafficking happens in all communities, rural and urban, and often in ways many of us would not suspect. I am proud of the work our health department and leaders across Tennessee State Government have done to combat this growing crisis.”
The TBI reports that in the U.S., on average, every two minutes a child is bought or sold for sex. The average age of a child sold for sex is 13 and human trafficking is the second-fastest growing criminal industry right behind drug trafficking.
It is important to know the signs of a possible human trafficking situation. Signs a person may be a victim of human trafficking include: being unable to come and go as desired, unpaid or paid very little or only through tips for their work, excessively long and/or unusual work hours, not being allowed breaks or subjected to unusual restrictions at work, few or no personal possessions or identifying documents, lack of control over their own money, not allowed to speak for themselves, numerous inconsistencies in stories, fear, anxiety, nervousness, paranoia, or submissive behaviors, and signs of physical and/ or sexual abuse, physical restraint, confinement or torture.
Tennessee continues to take a motivated approach to address this public health issue. New laws have been passed every year since 2011 in an effort to assist victims of human trafficking and increase the punishment against traffickers.
If you think you may know someone who needs help or who is potentially a victim of human trafficking, contact the Tennessee Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-855-558-6484 or text “BeFree” to 233722.