POMEROY — The Meigs County Community Prevention Coalition received training on human trafficking issues during their monthly meeting last week.
Heather Mitchell from the Survivor Advocacy Outreach Program, located in Athens, spoke to the committee about signs of human trafficking in the area as well as caring for victims. Many counties in Ohio have individual human trafficking prevention groups, however, Mitchell said there are not many in Southeastern Ohio. She believes this is because there is little awareness of the issue.
Mitchell said Ohio ranks among the most prevalent state for human trafficking to occur. The types of human trafficking for our area are sex and labor, according to Mitchell.
The three things that need to be present for a case to be trafficking are force, fraud and coercion. Mitchell said sometimes when a person is trafficked, the acts are forced by the family — especially in low-income areas. Mitchell said anyone is vulnerable to become a victim of human trafficking, but those that are most vulnerable include impoverished people, child runaways, children in foster care and immigrants.
Some red flags that may indicate a human trafficking situation include restricted communication, basic actions being controlled by someone else, signs of physical abuse, confusion of where they are, multiple sexually transmitted infections, malnourished, etc. A victim may also show fear, positive attitude toward trafficker, anxiety, depression, etc.
Mitchell said if someone is being trafficked, it is important to validate the realness and seriousness of the situation. Always call the national human trafficking hotline at 1-888-373-7888 if you witness or suspect trafficking.
In other business, the committee was reminded of the following upcoming events,
-July 20 at the fairgrounds from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. is “Safe Kids, Healthy Kids.” This event is organized through the health department and is to teach children about safe and healthy activities. Local first responders will be present at the event.
-August 13 is Prevention Day at the Meigs County Fair.
-August 21 from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. is “Operation Street Smart” at Meigs High School. This event is for teachers and staff and is an invite only event.
Kayla Hawthorne is a freelance writer for The Daily Sentinel.