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Human Trafficking Prevention Month: MoDOT and MSHP join forces to combat the issue

STAND Against Trafficking, a local organization, shares warning signs of human trafficking.
January is human trafficking awareness month and local law enforcement officers are advising...
January is human trafficking awareness month and local law enforcement officers are advising the community to be aware and report human trafficking.(AP)
Published: Jan. 9, 2022 at 8:01 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 9, 2022 at 9:21 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - January is Human Trafficking Prevention Month, a month meant to raise national awareness about human trafficking and educate the public about how to identify and prevent such crimes.

The U.S. Department of State has recognized the month every year since 2010, which marks the anniversary of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act.

MoDOT and the Missouri State Highway Patrol are asking the public to stay alert for the signs of trafficking not only in January, but throughout the year.

“Human trafficking remains a growing concern in Missouri, particularly along the interstate corridors,” said MoDOT Director Patrick McKenna. “That makes uniting the efforts of everyone in the transportation sector of vital importance in combating this rapidly expanding criminal enterprise.”

KY3 spoke with STAND Against Trafficking, an organization in the Ozarks that helps victims and provides educational tools and resources.

”Creating education on what trafficking is, what it looks like, what trafficking means to victims in the Ozarks, and knowing that behind it, we hope to be able to mobilize the community to create prevention against it,” said Dawn Day with STAND. “Traffickers look for vulnerabilities and create a grooming tactic that makes it seem like they’re in a accepting, loving and supportive relationship.”

Dawn shared some examples of what she sees in the Ozarks when it comes to human trafficking.

“Victims are meeting partners online and falling in love and end up moving in with them, but then it very quickly turns into an abusive relationship and a trafficking situation once they’re together,” said Dawn. ”There’s a huge population of individuals in this community. They’re being abused for the concept that they might be, they might be homeless at the time or they might have a drug addiction. There’s a huge population of Springfield individuals that are being abused and used because their substance abuse concerns are being manipulated.”

There are many red flags and warning signs STAND says to look out for when it comes to Human Trafficking.

“Individuals will start to receive expensive gifts as a form of grooming, an individual is quiet around a partner who is always in control, bruises, malnourished and changes in behavior are some of the many warning signs,” said Day.

If you suspect someone is being forced to engage in any activity from which they can’t leave, many resources are available.

Call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline at 1-888-373-7888 or text BeFree (233733). Information is available online at humantraffickinghotline.org.

MoDOT offers a campaign called “Put the Brakes on Human Trafficking.” You can contact the MoDOT Human Resources office at 573-526-7644 for further help.

To report a correction or typo, please email digitalnews@ky3.com

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