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ACDD launches campaign to help public recognize human trafficking

Published: Jan. 19, 2022 at 5:55 AM CST
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - January is recognized as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. Human Trafficking is the fastest growing criminal enterprise in the world, the buying and selling of people.

According to the Alabama Council on Developmental Disabilities (ACDD), thousands of men, women, girls, and boys in America fall prey to human trafficking, which encompasses both forced labor as well as sexual exploitation at the hands of traffickers.

“It’s a huge, huge issue,” said Darryle Powell, Executive Director of the ACDD. “You may be at a location and human trafficking or exploitation may be occurring, and you may not even know it, you know, maybe in the grocery store, you know, maybe in a shopping mall, in the park.”

Powell calls it a silent epidemic.

“We’re not talking about it, we not people are not aware, and people are sweeping it under the rug,” Powell said.

But we should be talking about it, we should be more aware, and we should know the signs to recognize, to protect would-be victims, especially those Powell serves.

According to the CDC, people with disabilities are 4 to 10 times more likely to be victimized than people without them and children with disabilities are more than twice as likely to be victimized as children without them.

“Some people who are living with a developmental disability or some type of disability may not be able to voice as an individual without a disability. So they’re considered as a high-risk population for human trafficking, exploitation,” Powell explained.

According to Powell, the “trafficker” is often a parent, a family member, or someone the victim trusts.

“Human trafficking is a major problem hiding in plain sight. Alabama has a high percentage of familial trafficking by a parent, family member, caregiver, or trusted adult. Persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities have difficulty understanding risky situations or how understanding who a risky person may be. This campaign will help educate them, along with parents, caregivers, educators, and others,” states Jeff Davis, Co-Owner of Fowler Davis, LLC.

ACDD has awarded Fowler Davis, LLC in Birmingham a second grant to continue the educational campaign for the trafficking of persons with developmental disabilities. The campaign includes English and Spanish fact sheets, a dedicated website, five animated videos on different types of exploitation, a General Awareness video, all in English and Spanish, a social media campaign, and digital ads distributed across Alabama newspapers.

If you see any suspicious activity related to possible human trafficking, do not attempt to confront it, as this could jeopardize their safety and your own. Call 9-1-1 immediately. If you need help, or to report suspected human trafficking, call the Department of Homeland Security at 1-866-347-2423 or call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-3737-888 or text HELP or INFO to BeFree (233733).

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