JOPLIN, Mo. – Human trafficking is a widespread problem across the U.S. In 2018, the National Human Trafficking Hotline recorded nearly 11,000 cases resulting in the rescue of over 23,000 survivors.Organizations like “RISE” in Joplin help sexually exploited victims.
“Many people think that it’s only the sensationalized cases that are in large sting operations when, in fact, it can be that trafficked individual that is on a day-by-day basis that many in our community are now being trained to identify with red flag indicators,” said Karolyn Schrage, Victim Response Team Coordinator with RISE.
At the local level, RISE partners with non-profits like Children’s Haven, Life Choices, Lafayette House and Children’s Network, to name a few.
Children’s Haven recently came into the spotlight after an unverified social media post claimed the organization had taken in a large group of girls, a claim that Children’s Haven could neither confirm nor deny. RISE says that if such a case were in our midst, it would likely know about it.
“The leadership of RISE has not been contacted for any recent, large-scale cases as would typically happen if there was some kind of a sex-trafficking ring, and they were wanting to bring in the collaborative partners of our RISE coalition to respond,” explained Schrage.
However, in a sex trafficking situation, confidentiality is key which is why victims are often moved a significant distance away from their past situation and officials who help victims would never share any identifying information that could end up causing harm, or even death.
“The safety of any kind of survivor that has come out of a trafficking situation really depends on the partners that are seeking to provide the confidentiality and the protective nature so that these individuals are not re-traumatized and their whereabouts are not known,” stated Schrage.
You can help make a difference by donating to RISE and its partners, and by reporting suspicious, “red flag” behavior.
“Knowing where to partner and where to get involved and where to help in this effort against the trafficking movement is so important by all of us,” Schrage stated.
In the last three to five years, RISE has responded to 141 cases of human trafficking.
PREVIOUSLY: We reached out to Children’s Haven in regards to a post on social media alleging they had recently taken in 25 girls under the age of 18 who had been rescued from a sex-trafficking ring.
The organization did post on its Facebook page requesting donations of gift cards for food.