JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) -Human trafficking is real, and it’s happening in Mississippi. But the red flags are often missed or go unreported.
Attorney General Lynn Fitch and Department of Public Safety Commissioner Sean Tindell are teaming up for this new statewide campaign and hoping people won’t shy away from speaking up if they suspect human trafficking.
Be the Solution — it’s a slogan you’ll start seeing throughout the state, whether in the bathroom of a convenience store, along the side of an 18 wheeler, or on a billboard. The point is letting folks know that if they suspect human trafficking, they need to report it.
“The real key is, people have to be willing to step in,” explained Attorney General Lynn Fitch. “That it’s perfectly OK to call the 1-800. It’s perfectly OK to call any of us that are in this partnership and know that we are so grateful. Because again, it could mean a rescue. It could mean empowering someone who might not live another day because they’re caught up in human trafficking.”
But in order to step in, people have to know what they’re looking for. That’s where the training and resource piece of the campaign will come in. Every commercial driver’s license holder will be offered training, as will school bus drivers. This type of training is already happening, but the statewide campaign is looking to cast that net even wider.
“One out of every twelve jobs in the state of Mississippi is in the trucking industry is in the trucking industry,” noted Mississippi Trucking Association President Hal Miller. “One out of twelve. That’s almost ten percent of everybody working in Mississippi working is tied to the trucking industry. They will be able to infiltrate that huge population of people and again train them on what human trafficking is, what it looks like and what to do about it.”
“The people of this state, including truckers, have to be the eyes and ears of what’s going on out there and let law enforcement know so they can finish the investigation,” added Department of Public Safety Commissioner Sean Tindell.
Mississippi has also made changes to the law in recent years that prevent minors from being charged with prostitution and removes an obstacle of them coming forward.
“The law requires us to classify that child involved in the commercial sex industry as a victim…period…it makes all the difference in the world in her chance for recovery,” explained Center for Violence Prevention Executive Director Sandy Middleton.
Middleton also noted that even just the social media posts about the campaign launch could go a long way. Because victims will see that and see that the state’s leaders are saying — this is not your fault, you are a victim.
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