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August proclaimed Human Trafficking Awareness Month in South Dakota

Tips on how to spot human trafficking

By Shiloh Appel

On the 24th of July, 2020 Governor Kristi Noem released an executive proclamation declaring the month of August to be Human Trafficking Awareness Month.

The proclamation defines human trafficking and declares that legislation has been passed in South Dakota to raise awareness, increase education, increase penalties for offenders, and remove legal barriers for victims.

“Law enforcement has increased efforts to investigate, prosecute, and curb human trafficking in South Dakota, which is vulnerable due to trafficking on interstate highways, to high demand, to vulnerable population groups, and to internet advertising,” states the proclamation. “…South Dakota will continue to fight to end human trafficking, to protect the vulnerable within the state, to bring offenders to justice, and to promote freedom for all residents.”

Across social media, human trafficking, child sex trafficking and pedophilia has received increased coverage this month, as many high-profile politicians, actors, and leaders have come under public scrutiny. The increased awareness has led to a united cry for justice.

Following are indicators that can be used by the public to recognize someone who has been trafficked (either sex-trafficked or labor-trafficked):

1. The person is living with their employer.

2. The individual is not allowed to speak to you alone.

3. Answers appear to be scripted and rehearsed.

4. Employer is holding identity documents.

5. Signs of physical abuse.

6 The person is submissive and fearful.

7. The person is not paid or paid very little.

8. Branding, such as tattoos. Victims are often branded with their pimps street name, initials or a signature phrase. Other common sex trafficking tattoos include bows, diamonds, dollars signs, bills, money bags, crowns, king, queen, princess, barcodes, on the neck or alpha-numeric codes on the upper arm.

9. Signs of neglect, such as malnutrition.

10. Expensive clothing: teens or individuals who suddenly have new and expensive clothing, hairstyles, etc., which they themselves couldn’t afford may be involved with a trafficker.

Traffickers often go after children, teenagers and immigrants, especially if they have a history of abuse in the home or homelessness. Immigrants who do not have citizenship in the United States are often coerced by their traffickers, who threaten them with deportation. A large age difference is also an indicator of trafficking. The average age for entry into the sex trade is 14 years old. The average age of a buyer is 40 years old. If a man is seen approaching a young girl who is dressed in a provocative way, it may be an indication of sex trafficking.

As far as spotting pedophiles who may seek out children for trafficking, here are some indicators provided by the Department of Justice:

1. The person is most often an adult male. (But can be female).

2. Is usually married.

3. Works in a wide range of occupations (could be an unskilled laborer or a corporate executive).

4. Relates better to children than adults.

5. Socializes with few adults (unless they are pedophiles).

6. May seek employment or volunteer with programs involving children of his/her preference.

7. Frequently photographs or collects photographs of his victims.

8. Collects child erotica.

9. Often portrays the child as the aggressor.

10. Is usually a well respected community member.

If you suspect human trafficking call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 to report a tip. The National Human Trafficking Hotline is a national, toll-free hotline available to answer calls from anywhere in the country, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, every day of the year. In an emergency, call 911. In Redfield, the Family Crisis Center provides a safe and protected place to stay for those who have been in an abusive situation until they can recover (the Family Crisis Center can be contacted at (605) 472-0508.

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