ALABAMA - The North Alabama Human Trafficking Task Force is working to bring a tough topic to the forefront. Human trafficking is happening in our area. It may seem hard to believe, but it's the second largest criminal activity in the world. Human trafficking occurs more often in the south than people might think.
According to statistics from the National Human Trafficking Hotline, 68 cases have already been reported this year in Alabama but that number is low compared to states right next door. This year in Tennessee, 110 cases have already been reported. In Georgia, that number more than doubles: 276 cases have been reported so far in 2018.
"It is going on here in the Tennessee Valley," task force public relations director Bo Williams said. Human trafficking is modern-day slavery.
He says the crime has taken many forms in our area, "Parents selling sexual access to their children for drug money."
It can be hard to talk about, but he says having this conversation is an important part of stopping it. "The way that we can turn this back, this evil back, is by shining a light on it and everybody has to shine the light."
The main objective for the task force is to bring awareness to this issue and educate the community. They train people who work in schools and in the medical industry how to be aware of the signs of human trafficking.
"Young people who don't make eye contact. People who don't seem to be in control of their narratives like if they show up at the doctor's office and they have a handler."
If someone wants to report a situation they think could be considered human trafficking, he recommends to call the police. He warns to not directly get involved because it can lead to a very dangerous situation for you and the victim.
Click this link for information about the North Alabama Human Trafficking Task Force.