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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For more information about human trafficking and the Blue Campaign, go to www.dhs.gov/blue-campaign.
To report suspected human trafficking to Federal law enforcement:
To get help from the National Human Trafficking Hotline:
or text HELP or INFO to
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:
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