Teachers, doctors learn warning signs of sex trafficking - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Teachers, doctors learn warning signs of sex trafficking

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Friday, Charlotte teachers, doctors, and social workers gathered to learn about recognizing and preventing human trafficking.

Human trafficking occurs every day throughout the United States, including Charlotte. Trafficking can take two different forms--labor trafficking and sex trafficking. Labor trafficking happens when workers are recruited and either forced or coerced into working without pay.

Sex trafficking involves women and girls as young as eleven years old who are forced or coerced into having sex.

"Both happen here in Charlotte," said Anne Tompkins, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina.

Friday, Tompkins joined the Junior League of Charlotte and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in educating the public about human trafficking. The audience included multiple representatives from Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) as well as health care professionals, social workers, and other community advocates.

Brock Nicholson, ICE Special Agent in Charge, explained what happens when girls are trafficked into the United States. He said they're often lured to the country with promises of a better life.

"The first night, the horror story beings," said Nicholson. "They're forced to have sex with over 20, 30 men. We're talking about a 15-year-old girl from another country who doesn't speak the language. This is what she learns of America. That's unacceptable."

Nicholson, Tompkins, and a group of other experts talked about the warning signs of trafficking. They said to be on the lookout for children who are not in school during the day, or women who aren't allowed to contact friends or family or go to religious services. Trafficking victims are often scared of law enforcement because their traffickers have threatened deportation or confiscated their identification.

Other trafficking questions from the Dept. of Homeland Security include:

- Was the victim coached on what to say to law enforcement and immigration officials?
- Was the victim recruited for one purpose and forced to engage in some other job?
- Is the victim's salary being garnished to pay off a smuggling fee?
- Was the victim forced to perform sex acts?
- Does the victim have freedom of movement?
- Has the victim been harmed or deprived of food, water, sleep, medical care, or other life necessities?

January is National Human Trafficking and Slavery Prevention Month. Experts at Friday's conference said they need the community's help and watchful eyes to catch traffickers and rescue the victims. They say it's the only way this modern day slavery will be eradicated.

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