Latest News, Opinion, WVPA Sharing

Editorial: Battle against human trafficking in WV

From The Journal of Martinsburg:

It will take a village to bring an end to human trafficking.

On Tuesday, a group of local officials gathered to speak out about human trafficking. Their message was clear: It’s happening right here in the Eastern Panhandle, and the community must play a part in bringing a stop to it.

The Human Trafficking Teach-In was held at Shepherd University Tuesday and featured panelists including James Robert Leslie, West Virginia senior deputy attorney general; Katie Spriggs, executive director of the Shenandoah Women’s Center; Dr. David Didden, physician director at the Jefferson County Health Department; and Sgt. William Garrett, with the West Virginia State Police Crimes Against Children Unit.

An estimated 21 million people are trafficked, according to UNICEF. Spriggs estimated Tuesday that she serves between 30-50 human trafficking victims at her shelter each year.

Education and awareness are key in the battle against human trafficking. It’s long past the point where we can say, as responsible members of the community, that human trafficking isn’t a problem here.

The facts suggest otherwise.

Members of the community – especially first responders, law enforcement, educators and federal employees – should educate themselves on the indicators of human trafficking, so that they can help identify potential victims. Awareness training is available for these groups, as well as for individuals and businesses, according to the U.S. State Department.

Parents should stay involved with their kids – especially when it comes to the internet.

“Unfortunately, trafficking is in plain sight, so the best way to combat that is to just educate ourselves, monitor our kids activity online, know the signs of child abuse and child trafficking and just talk with our kids,” Garrett said during Tuesday’s event.

A chilling fact also was revealed Tuesday.

“I guarantee right now a kid is being sold in West Virginia in relation to their parents drug addiction,” Leslie said.

To combat the problem, Leslie said the Attorney General’s Office is training law enforcement and Child Protective Services workers and educators to help spot the signs of abuse.

“By training law enforcement officers that are on our streets, by training CPS workers who are actually dealing with victims of child abuse, by training educators who are actually with our children every single day, we are creating more sets of eyes, ears and more voices throughout the entirety of the state,” Leslie said.

The problem certainly is bigger than one agency, and it must be fought at multiple levels.

Law enforcement agencies could probably use just about every set of eyes and ears they can find.

It will take a village.

Comments are closed.

Subscribe to Our Newsletter