Human trafficking is a growing problem not just in Central Texas, but worldwide.
On Thursday, dozens of educators and school personnel from several different district’s joining forces to combat the issue.
“This is an epidemic, this is serious,” said Diamante Maya, Case Worker.
We see it over and over again, human trafficking right in our backyard.
“Human trafficking is here, it’s in our community and in our counties,” said Susan Peters, National Director for Unbound.
That’s why experts say informing those involved in our child’s lives, is so important.
“I hope in their business of all the task and responsibilities they have with teaching that they also have in their tool box to be able to look out for those vulnerable kids,” said Peters.
Many of the times, human trafficking starts at a young age.
“We’re around children all the time, and we want to make sure that they are safe and I don’t like the mentality ‘it can’t happen where we are’ it can happen anywhere and our goal always kids first, and what’s for kids, we are about kids, so we want to make sure that we are ahead of the game,” said Patricia Daniels, Counselor at Corsicana ISD.
And, many children don’t even know they are being trafficked.
“The kids are being coerced, they are being led to believe that they are the ones doing the wrong so they’re not likely to speak up, they have to be educated to know ‘actually somebody is tricking you, you’re being manipulated’,” said Maya.
Attendees heard what signs they should be looking out for.
“When you have a kid that is truant, drastic changes in academic performance, drops out of extracurricular activities all of the sudden,” said Peters.
They watched a real story from a trafficking victim, and practiced analyzing different scenarios.
“This is real, this does happen to kids all around us,” said Christy Gutierrez, Killeen ISD.
Gutierrez not only works for Killeen ISD, but she has three teenagers at home.
“I didn’t realize how bad it was and how crafty these people are to get in contact with the teenagers,” said Gutierrez.
“I need to be sure that my radar is up and that I am alert and that I am being sure that everybody is safe at all times,” said Daniels.
If you believe you’re being trafficked or know of someone who is, call your local police.