Human trafficking forum draws crowd


Stranger danger.

These are the words we most often use when talking with our children about abduction and human trafficking. Yet the little known fact is that the majority of abduction victims knew their abductor.

Family and friends make up the greater percentage of traffickers whether it is for sex trade or labor.

About 50 people attended the recent human trafficking forum facilitated by the Crawfordsville chapter of the Indiana Federation of Business and Professional Woman hosted by First Christian Church.

The forum was the result of several months of contacting different human trafficking organizations searching for speakers. The recent movie Sound of Freedom had spawned an overwhelming shortage of speakers to fulfill the requests. However, when everything came together BPW had two highly qualified speakers lined up to help educate our community.

Angela Meacham, the director of the Indiana State Police clearing house for Missing Persons, and William Glover, the Region 3 Coordinator for ITVAP (Indiana Trafficking Victims Assistance Program).

Indiana has long been known as the Crossroads of America due to the number of interstate highways that converge in Indianapolis.

This makes moving and disseminating victims throughout the country a much easier task and puts Indiana in the center of this $155 billion industry.

Human trafficking is not limited to the sex trade, although that is most often the image that comes to mind when we hear human trafficking. Domestic workers, restaurant, massage parlors, health and beauty, construction, agriculture and door to door sales are a few of the areas that are staffed by individuals being trafficked for the labor force, often against their will.

Who are these individuals that are being trafficked?

The most at risk demographics are runaways and homeless, abused, neglected and substance abuse victims, individuals with cognitive or emotional disabilities, system-involved, immigrant, mental health issues and LGBTQIA youth.

Once the groomers identify their victims they are lured with gift giving, drugs or the promise of a better life. By the time the individual realizes the situation they are in they are usually drug addicted or too ashamed to return to their old life.

If you suspect someone is being trafficked don’t be afraid to ask questions. Are you okay? Are you safe? Do you need help?

Trust your instincts and report if you suspect human trafficking.

The numbers to call are:

• Indiana Child Abuse Hotline (DCS), 1-800-800-5556

• National Human Trafficking Hotline, 1-888-373-7888

Text “HELP” or  “INFO” to 233733 anytime

• Indiana State Police, Clearinghouse for Missing Children and Endangered Adults, 1-800-831-8953

This forum was funded by Shawn Blackwell and B&L Engineering in Crawfordsville.

The Business and Professional Women are a women’s networking organization. For more information visit the group’s Facebook page.