MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – This week, TBI leaders came to Memphis to share new insights and awareness around a growing issue in Tennessee: human trafficking.
It’s hitting communities large and small, with risks right at the fingertips of children.
Whether it’s in the heart of Memphis or Madison County farmlands, TBI leaders said human trafficking remains a relentless challenge.
“Some of the most rural counties, a majority of them had cases of human trafficking,” TBI Assistant Special in Charge Jeremy Lofquest said.
It’s estimated in the U.S., every two seconds a child is bought and sold for sex, and TBI leaders said traffickers are often home grown.
“Another misconception would be, you now, it’s foreign nationals,” Lofquest said.
Lofquest said predators often prey for children on social media, making parents the front line of defense.
“Monitoring is going to be your main and first step and being involved,” Lofquest said.
Those fears played out earlier this year in the Mid-South, when police said a 14-year-old was lured to Illinois by a person he met on a video gaming messaging app.
“They ask you something random about a picture of your feet or anything that seems innocuous, definitely would be a red flag,” Lofquest said.
In addition to protecting teenagers, TBI leaders asked the public to look for warning signs of human trafficking victims.
They include someone with very few personal possessions, someone who claims to be an adult but their appearance suggests otherwise, and someone who seems to control their moves.
TBI leaders said the trafficking problem also includes exploiting child laborers.
For TBI parent resources, go to https://ithastostop.com/.