Human Trafficking Forum Held to Raise Awareness in Midlands

COLUMBIA, SC (WOLO)- A local organization is sending a warning for Midlands parents about a growing problem in our state.

Human Trafficking is being called a hidden crime.

“The numbers are increasing,” Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force Coordinator, Vicki Jackson said. “Human trafficking prays on vulnerability and every single one of us has a vulnerability.”

“To really hear some of the statistics Vicki put out today were very troubling to hear that it’s happening here in Columbia,” concerned parent, Wayne Hughes said.

At a forum for Midlands residents parents were in shock at how easy a child can be persuaded into the world of human trafficking.

“Traffickers are really good at manipulation, power and control,” Vicki said. “So they take those vulnerabilities and they exploit them.”

Vicki said parents need to look out for red flags like abnormal behavior and if your child is hanging out with older men.

“If we see a child who someone says is very promiscuous we need to dig deep and find out what is really going on,” Vicki said.

Hughes is a grandfather of five and says his youngest is turning 13 this year.

“It would hurt my heart to see any child, especially my own grandchild, go through something like that,” Hughes said.

On Monday night, Vicki shared some advice with concerned parents.

“Tell them how proud we are of them, that they’re beautiful, and that we love them no matter what happens,” Vicki said./

She also warned them about the dangers of technology.

“They should be monitoring it because some of our kids get on Facebook and they just friend anyone,” Vicki said.

Lighthouse For Life is opening the first safe house for Human Trafficking victims in Richland county in July.

Categories: Local News, News, Richland, State