January is National Slavery & Human Trafficking Prevention Month
Human trafficking is a public health concern that affects individuals, families and communities here in Nashville and across the state of Tennessee. It is the modern-day slavery, the sale of another person for sex.
While this crime is largely hidden, Tennessee leads the nation in its approach to addressing human trafficking. On a national and international stage, former U.S. Sen. Bob Corker spent years pushing to bring attention to the issue of modern slavery and harnessing resources to combat the issue. Closer to home, the Tennessee Department of Health is urging all Tennesseans, including community providers and emergency medicine personnel, to learn more about risk factors, red flags and resources for human trafficking. Improving education and awareness is the first step to becoming part of the solution, and possibly help save a life.
"The Tennessee Department of Health recognizes human trafficking is a public health concern, and we're working with community organizations and local health departments to provide education and resources to help fight this issue in our state," said TDH Assistant Commissioner for Family Health and Wellness Morgan McDonald, MD.
Red flags of human trafficking can include the person:
- Is not free to leave or come and go as he/she wishes,
- Is unpaid, paid very little or paid only through tips for his/her work,
- Works excessively long and/or unusual hours,
- Is not allowed breaks or suffers under unusual restrictions at work,
- Is fearful, anxious, depressed, submissive, tense, nervous or paranoid,
- Has few or no personal possessions and/or identification documents,
- Lacks control of money of his/her own,
- Is not allowed or able to speak for himself or herself,
- Has numerous inconsistencies in his/her stories, and
- May show signs of physical and/or sexual abuse, physical restraint, confinement or torture.
Reports of human trafficking occur worldwide and continue to grow. There are 94 children each month who are trafficked right here in Tennessee. If you see someone who needs help, contact the Tennessee Human Trafficking Hotline at 855-558-6484 or text "BeFree" to 233722.
Tennessee is taking a proactive approach to combatting the problem of human trafficking including progressive legislative efforts and comprehensive research to gather data to inform projects. New laws have been passed in each of the last eight years including efforts to assist victims of human trafficking and enhance penalties for traffickers. Learn more including how to help bring an end to human trafficking at ithastostop.com.
Additional resources and information on human trafficking are available at endslaverytn.org and acf.hhs.gov/trafficking.