You may be seeing red ‘x’-s throughout your Facebook news feed today. It’s not because photos won’t load but a way to spread awareness of modern-day slavery and human trafficking.
Today is “Shine A Light on Slavery” Day initiated by the End It Movement encouraging people to draw a red ‘x’ on their hands and take a selfie, or share one of the graphics the organization has prepared using the hashtags #EndSlaveryAct and #EndItMovement.
Profile changes aren’t going to stop this issue but it’s a way to show unity and raising awareness.
According to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, there are an estimated 35.8 million slaves worldwide. In the US alone, as many as 300,000 children are at-risk to being commercially exploited in sex slavery each year.
Connecticut has been affected by sex trafficking. Interstate highways that run through the state are used to transport victims and the internet is also a place for solicitation. According to the Connecticut Department of Children and Families (DCF), the reporting of suspected domestic minor sex trafficking has reached a record level. At least 190 reports of child sex trafficking were made to the DCF in 2016 but that number may be higher. 133 such reports were made in 2015.
To aid, the state has created a Connecticut Human Trafficking Task Force which includes members of Homeland Security Investigations, the FBI, the US Department of Labor, Connecticut State Police and police departments from 14 cities and towns across Connecticut including Bridgeport, East Hartford, Greenwich, Hamden, Hartford, Milford, Naugatuck, New Haven, Norwalk, Stamford, Stratford, Waterbury, West Haven and Windsor Locks with more departments joining.
A bill was also passed last year in the General Assembly requiring hotels and motels in Connecticut to provide training to their staff, in hopes of identifying signs of human trafficking and immediately alerting law enforcement.
Anyone who comes in contact with potential victims of trafficking should call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline at 888-373-7888, send an email to NHTRC@traffickingresourcecenter.org or text “BEFREE” (23733) to receive an immediate response and help from the National Human Trafficking Resource Center.