TUCSON, Ariz. -- The unthinkable happens to thousands of children and teens daily. They become victims who are exploited in their own communities.
Now, there’s a new state program that helps educate people of signs they should be aware of.
According to Arizona State University research, one fourth of runaways in Arizona will become victims of sex trafficking.
Reverend Nedra Moore with the Grace Temple Missionary Baptist Church (GTMBC) says education is key.
“The more we know, the better we can help. When we’re aware, we can at least, maybe report...hey something doesn't look right, something doesn’t sound right,” said Reverend Moore.
Josefina Sabori, a human trafficking prevention expert, came to GMTBC to give a seminar to people in the community.
“We have training through the Arizona governor’s office, it’s for free, anyone can request it,” Sabori told KGUN9.
She says the goal is to teach community members how to recognize and help a victim.
“The minors that we find that are high risk, between 12 ans 16, will have a large amount of cash that typically minors do not carry. Some of them might have tattoos or branding which represents the trafficker. Some of them have gifts that they wouldn’t be able to afford themselves. We’ve seen also very young girls with older men in a relationship,” added Sabori.
She also says there are misconceptions when it comes to what a victim looks like.
“Some people have this vision that a victim needs to look like something on TV wearing short skirts and high heels walking on the street, but victims can be dressed just like you or I. And victims can be engaged with the community, it’s the behaviors we need to watch for,” Sabori told KGUN9.
Men can also be victims. If you spot a one, keep this in mind.
“Dealing with traffickers is very dangerous as well. But we ask that you report it to law enforcement. Just call 911,” Sabori said.
Meantime, Reverend Moore says the effects of this class are endless.
“This can hopefully help release some of the, all of the individuals that are being trafficked,. Let them go home and be free, live their life the way they are supposed to be and not in slavery,”said the Reverend.
For more information on the training, click here.