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Campaigning for humanity: Sumter holds ceremony to raise awareness of human trafficking

BY SHELBIE GOULDING
shelbie@theitem.com
Posted 1/11/20

Shades of blue covered the Sumter County Courthouse lawn on Friday as community members showed their support to end human trafficking in not only the Sumter community, but also the world.

What is called a hidden crime and known as the world's …

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Campaigning for humanity: Sumter holds ceremony to raise awareness of human trafficking

Posted

Shades of blue covered the Sumter County Courthouse lawn on Friday as community members showed their support to end human trafficking in not only the Sumter community, but also the world.

What is called a hidden crime and known as the world's modern-day slavery is closer to home than many may think, as human trafficking continues to occur in communities just like Sumter every day.

In recognition of National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, Sumter County Council presented a proclamation stating that Jan. 11 will be known as a Blue Campaign Day in the hopes of bringing awareness and an end to human trafficking.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security defines human trafficking as using force, fraud and coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sexual exploitation worldwide, including in the United States. Anyone in any community can become a victim, including any age, race, gender or nationality.

There are different types of human trafficking: sex trafficking, forced labor and domestic servitude. It's considered a hidden crime because while thousands of cases are reported each year, many more go unnoticed, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

"Today is a great day for us to talk about this, but we should be vigilant every day," Sumter Police Department Chief Russell Roark said.

Roark said social media has provided a pathway to crimes, and young children should be educated on social media safety to protect them.

"This is a sad day," Councilwoman Vivian Fleming-McGhaney said. "We have to face this reality that human trafficking is real."

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security created the Blue Campaign to take a stand against human trafficking and bring awareness to the ongoing issue happening across the globe.

Fleming-McGhaney orchestrated Friday's event to show human trafficking victims that "Sumter cares" about this issue.

Fleming-McGhaney said she plans to pass information along to the community and Sumter schools to educate students and parents on the signs of human trafficking and other information.

"It's near to my heart," Fleming-McGhaney said. "I heard so many stories of people going missing and close calls. I just want to make sure that the public and parents are aware."

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security developed a list of common indicators to help recognize human trafficking:

  •  Does the person appear disconnected from family, friends, community organizations or houses of worship?
  •  Has a child stopped attending school?
  •  Has the person had a sudden or dramatic change in behavior?
  •  Is a juvenile engaged in commercial sex acts?
  •  Is the person disoriented or confused or showing signs of mental or physical abuse?
  •  Does the person have bruises in various stages of healing?
  •  Is the person fearful, timid or submissive?
  •  Does the person show signs of having been denied food, water, sleep or medical care?
  •  Is the person often in the company of someone to whom he or she defers? Or someone who seems to be in control of the situation, e.g., where they go or who they talk to?
  •  Does the person appear to be coached on what to say?
  •  Is the person living in unsuitable conditions?
  •  Does the person lack personal possessions and appear not to have a stable living situation?
  •  Does the person have freedom of movement? Can the person freely leave where he or she lives? Are there unreasonable security measures?