Library to host sessions with Human Trafficking Task Force

MADISON – Branches of Huntsville-Madison County Public Library are hosting informational sessions with the North Alabama Human Trafficking Task Force.

This month, parents, teachers, caregivers and other concerned citizens will have two opportunities to learn more about human trafficking. Both programs are free and open to the public.

A session at Madison Public Library will he held Oct. 22 at 6 p.m.

The Downtown Huntsville Library will host another meeting on Oct. 29 at 6:30 p.m. in the events room on second floor. These sessions will raise awareness about this criminal activity and help to keep individuals and their families safe online, according to Melanie Thornton, the library system’s Director of Public Relations.

“Human trafficking is modern-day slavery. The United States (has) more slaves right now than at any other time in our history. It’s happening right in front of us every single day here in North Alabama,” Deborah Powell said. Powell serves with North Alabama Human Trafficking Task Force.

“One of our primary goals at the North Alabama Human Trafficking Task Force is to educate the public — not only on what human trafficking is but also to recognize the signs and understand the appropriate steps to get the help that the victims need,” Powell said.

Numerous ‘red flags’ are present with human trafficking:

* Victim’s inability or fear to make eye contact or to speak to other people.

* Evidence or signs of physical, mental or sexual abuse.

* Heightened sense of fear or distrust of authority with a demeanor that is fearful, anxious, depressed, submissive, tense and nervous.

* Absences from school or significant gaps in schooling; youth who run away from home or are homeless.

* Tattoo or ‘brand’ like “Daddy’s Girl,” “Daddy’s Princess” or “Money Maker.”

* Presence of an older male or ‘boyfriend’ who seems controlling.

* Lying about age or holding false ID.

* Holding one or more hotel keys and having an excess amount of cash.

* Has engaged in prostitution or commercial sex.

* Works long hours but paid very little or nothing for the work.

* Forced to sell drugs, jewelry or magazines on the street.

* Lives at workplace with employee or with many people in confined area.

* Any child whose work ‘pay’ goes directly to rent, debt, living expenses or necessities. (polarisproject.org)

Anyone who suspects human trafficking crime should not attempt to rescue the victim alone. Contact local police, an FBI office or National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hot Line (1-888-3737-888).

Traffickers are very dangerous individuals. Trying to rescue a victim alone places everyone in extreme danger.

To contact North Alabama Human Trafficking Task Force, call 256-653-8527, email Info@STNOW.org or visit stnow.org.

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