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Human Trafficking

On January 11th, the Stevensville Aglow Lighthouse together with the organization “For All Seasons” co-sponsored an anti-human trafficking workshop at a library on Kent Island, MD to educate people about trafficking on the Eastern Shore. While human trafficking is active in all 50 states, the Eastern Shore is especially affected because of its proximity to large metropolitan areas, major highways, rest stops and the amount of sporting events, casinos, conventions and recreational areas which all contribute to an increased opportunity for human trafficking.

Speakers from the Eastern Shore Human Trafficking Task Force, For All Seasons Behavioral Health and Rape Crisis Center, and the Prevention Project all made presentations.

Facts about human trafficking brought out in the presentations include:

  • Criminals regard trafficking as a “low risk, high reward” crime.
  • The number of young boys being trafficked is increasing.
  • Victims are chosen from all socio-economic backgrounds. There has been an increase in middle class and more affluent families.
  • Human trafficking has now become a $9.5 billion a year industry making it the second-highest money making criminal enterprise.
  • It is estimated that 22,000 victims were trafficked in the state of Maryland in 2018.
  • With just 4-6 victims, a “pimp” can bring in $150,000 to $200,000 a year.
  • The profile of traffickers is changing to include women and men of all ethnicities and nationalities.

The 17 year old daughter of one of the speakers was being “groomed” by a worship pastor in their church who took advantage of her trust and his position of authority to lure her into the industry. The family worked with law enforcement to catch the perpetrator, and have now dedicated their lives to educating people about trafficker’s methods. Their curriculum is being used to teach awareness to students and other groups.

The curriculum educates people on the signs that someone is being “groomed” for trafficking which includes: withdrawing from family, school or church; dressing differently; signs of physical abuse; appearing consistently tired; acting as if they are under another’s control; and getting new or unexplained tattoos, such as bar codes; being the recipient of expensive gifts, and wear gang-related clothing.

President Donald Trump declared January “National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month” citing that “as a nation, we cherish and uphold the notion that all people are created with inherent dignity and entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Human trafficking and enslavement robs victims of these God-given endowments.”

The National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline can be reached at 1-888-373-7888, and is staffed 24 hours a day, being able to communicate with callers in over 170 languages.

Read the article on the workshop published by the Bay Times and Record Observer.