MISSOULA – It’s a crime once just whispered about – but not anymore.
Sex and human trafficking are happening here in Montana and you could play a vital role in saving children – or adults- who are held against their will.
Statistics show that some 300,000 children are trafficked for sex every year in the United States.
The Missoula Human trafficking Task Force says that every year there are hundreds of cases investigated by law enforcement here in Montana.
There is at least one case in Missoula where someone who saw something that looked a little ‘off’ alerted authorities and ended up saving a person being held against their will.
January is Human Trafficking and Slavery Prevention Month and an upcoming seminar at the University of Montana aims to help folks know what to look for in a crime that often happens right under our noses.
“So we’re really hoping that these two training sessions are going to help people be able to recognize indicators, signs, symptoms of human trafficking,” said Kat Werner, LCSW who is with the University of Montana School of Social work.
“What to look for in potential victims, what to look for in potential perpetrators and then also really hands-on tools to figure out…how can we as a community really come together and collaborate? How can social service agencies and law enforcement work together to recognize signs and then properly respond to victims.”
Werner is the chair of the Missoula Human Trafficking Task Force and helped organize the Ending Commercial Sexual Exploitation seminar at UM.
The two meetings take place on Wednesday, January 9 in the University Center Theater on the UM campus.
The first seminar is for professionals and runs from 1 p.m. until 5 p.m. The second meeting — which is free and open to the public — begins at 6 p.m. where an expert in the field discusses how communities can work together to end commercial sex exploitation.
Reporting by Jill Valley for MTN News