HELENA – On Monday night in Helena, anti-human trafficking advocates will share advice on how to recognize warning signs of trafficking.
A free seminar will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Carroll College Campus Center. The event is being organized by the advocacy group Glory for Ashes and the Hunthausen Center for Peace and Justice. It will also feature Detective Guy Baker of the Missoula Police Department, who specializes in trafficking cases.
Grace Manchala, the founder and director of Glory for Ashes, said people in Helena shouldn’t believe human trafficking is a faraway problem.
“Does it happen here in Montana? Yes, it does happen here in Montana,” she said.
Manchala said, in many cases, traffickers target children from broken homes or other difficult backgrounds, then try to gain the victims’ trust.
“Because people are not aware of how human trafficking happens, they are not able to identify it as a human trafficking situation,” she said.
Manchala said different groups of people should be looking for different signs. She said parents should keep an eye on how much time their children spend on social media and what sites they’re using, while teachers should pay attention if a student begins to sleep a lot at school or act out dramatically.
The Monday evening event will be open to everyone.
“Parents, grandparents, uncles, cousins, teachers, anyone working with young people, anyone working in the justice system, medical professionals – all of these people would be benefited,” said Manchala.
Earlier on Monday, Manchala said she will hold a five-hour training session specifically for local law enforcement officers.
According to the Polaris Project, a nonprofit group that operates a national human trafficking hotline, the hotline received almost 90 calls in Montana in 2017.