Hidden In Plain Sight

Anne Childers, Staff Writer

Since December 2014, Dunndeal Publications has donated space to educate our readership on the horror that is human trafficking. Victims of modern day slavery are often hidden in plain sight.

As a society we must all strive to recognize this evil in order to make a difference—someone’s life may well depend on our own educated awareness. The facts are grim:

• The United States of America is the #1 consumer of trafficked human beings
• Florida is third in the nation as a human trafficking destination
• The Tampa Bay area ranks between second and third place in the state
• 83% of the victims are American citizens, with an average age of 12
• A human trafficking victim has a typical life expectancy of only 7 years
• Sex, forced labor, and organ harvesting are components of trafficking.

Locating and rescuing a victim is the critical first step in restoring the mental and physical health of an exploited and enslaved individual. Victims need medical care and basic necessities—food, clothing, and shelter. Rehabilitation is a slow process requiring time and resources.

Many of these victims have been denied a chance to attend or finish school. Once rescued, a victim needs to develop the skills and education needed to become a survivor and to eventually thrive.
The Salvation Army will provide GED classes at no charge to ensure the rescued girls receive an education.

If you think you have come into contact with a victim of human trafficking, do not become involved personally, but do call one of the professional services trained to recognize and rescue victims.

Report your suspicions anonymously to local law enforcement, the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888, the U.S. Department of Justice Hotline at 1-888-428-7581, the Florida Abuse Hotline at 1-800-96-ABUSE (22873), or 911. Pasco FREE (pascoFREE@gmail.com) is accepting members—email for details, and anyone wishing to share information with this publication may send an email to edit101@ddpnews.com.

For additional information, go and watch the WEDU video at http://www.wedu.org/humantrafficking or contact MyFloridaLegal.com.

Please get involved and ask yourself how your organizations or place of worship can make a difference in the lives of our most vulnerable citizens.

Saddle Up For Charity

Bridging Freedom, Restoring Stolen Childhoods, and Pasco Sheriff Charities team up on Saturday April 22, to raise funds and awareness for victims of Human Trafficking. Come on foot or on horseback to Diamond “B” Ranch, 21309 Kettering Road, Dade City. Gates open at 8:30am, ride starts at 10:00am.

Riders can pre-register for $30 and receive lunch and a T-shirt. Day of the event registration is $35. All proceeds to benefit Bridging Freedoms Equine Therapy Program. Call 813-220-8459 for registration and information, or visit www.bridgingfreedom.org.

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