WACO, Texas (KWTX) – January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month and the National Runaway Safeline is partnering with Greyhound to bring runaways and homeless youth home safe to be reunited with their families.
This month is a time to acknowledge those experiencing enslavement and those who have escaped.
The National Runaway Safeline says youth experiencing homelessness are at a higher risk of being trafficked.
In order to get a free ticket home the person between ages 12 and 21 must call call the NRS helpline (1-800-RUNAWAY) and be named on a runaway report, willing to return to their family.
The family or guardian of the child also needs to agree to receive them at home.
A child can only get a ticket home twice through the program.
The program also provides additional resources to the family once they are reunited to provide support once they are settled.
Since 1995 Greyhound and the National Runaway Safeline have worked together to create the “Home Free” program which has brought over 16,000 families free bus tickets.
The New Orleans’s Modern Slavery Research Project at Loyola University interviewed youth ages 17 to 25 in the United States and Canada, finding 14% had been a victim of sex trafficking, 8% had been victims of labor trafficking, and 3% had been victims of both.
In 2019, human trafficking was the fifth top reason that youth called in to NRS to request a Home Free ticket.
According to CNN, the NRS wants emphasize that the children running away are not “bad” and typically are running away from something, not towards something.
“They are dealing with a situation that feels overwhelming,” National Runaway Safeline says, “be it family dynamics, bullying, gender identity or being lured from home over the internet.
“They believe living anywhere else is better; even if this means living on the streets.”
Throughout the month of January, the National Runaway Safeline will be drawing attention to the reality of trafficking and how it impacts the youth that we serve.
The National Runaway Safeline say they are available, “24/7/365,” to support youth survivors and their families.
The number available to call is on our 1-800-RUNAWAY hotline
The organization has live chat, e-mail, and forum at 1800RUNAWAY.org with free, confidential, non-judgmental support.’
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