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Our Opinion: Be alert for human trafficking

by News Tribune | January 12, 2022 at 3:56 a.m.

Human trafficking is something that’s out of sight, out of mind. It’s something we think happens to other families, not ours. Does it even happen in our community? In our state?


Unfortunately, it does. It’s a real and persistent problem. But, fortunately, more people have shined a light on the problem in recent years and worked to combat it.


Trafficking is akin to slavery — being forced to engage in any activity from which they can’t leave. Often, it deals with commercial sex, but not always. It can also be forced housework, farmwork or other activities.


January is National Human Trafficking Prevention Month, which marks the anniversary of the passage of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000. The Missouri Department of Transportation has joined forces with the Missouri Highway Patrol and local law enforcement to combat the crime of human trafficking in our state.


The agency signed the Transportation Leaders Against Human Trafficking pledge in 2018. MoDOT will provide specialized training to employees about the common indicators of human trafficking and how to report potential cases. It also will work to raise public awareness on the issue.


Also, the state Attorney General’s Office maintains a Human Trafficking Task Force.


And the Missouri Hospital Association collaborates with the state to help hospital staff or other health care providers to understand and identify victims of human trafficking.


MHA has developed and released resources in collaboration with state officials.


If you suspect someone is involved in trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline at 1-888-373-7888 or text BeFree (233733). Information is available online at humantraffickinghotline.org.


For more information about MoDOT’s efforts to “Put the Brakes on Human Trafficking,” go to modot.org/fighthumantrafficking or contact the MoDOT Human Resources office at 573-526-7644.


We commend state agencies and officials for shining a light on the problem, and we encourage members of the public to stay alert and report suspected trafficking cases. Together, we can help to eliminate this growing scourge.


News Tribune



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