January is Human Trafficking Awareness month and Tennessee officials are doing their best to cast light on the frightening statistics of this problem. Many Tennesseans are unaware of the high number of their fellow citizens that are victims of human trafficking. On average, approximately ninety-four children are victims of human trafficking each month. Overall, about one-hundred and eleven people are victims each month, however minors make up 84.7% of the victims of trafficking within Tennessee. Ashlyn Gossage (11), a junior at Lenoir City High School, can not fathom these statistics on human trafficking.
“Its crazy to think that in this state that such a high number of kids are stuck in such a horrible situation. It hurts me,” said Gossage.
Most Tennessee residents are unaware of the reality of this issue. That very reason is why government officials are working with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and several other agencies to bring attention to the problem. In the months leading up to January, officials increased public service announcements and statement regarding trafficking. The Tennessee government is now recognizing human trafficking as a high risk public safety concern. As a reminder of the signs of trafficking and different ways you can identify them, www.tn.gov has a dedicated webpage to inform citizens. New efforts to put an end to trafficking were rolled out in January in the form of the public Tennessee Human Trafficking Hotline.
“If victims can call it I think it would be beneficial. Hopefully they can get the help they need to get out of it,” said Gossage.
The hotline can be found at 1-855-558-6484 or users can text “BeFree” to 233722.