January is National Human Trafficking Prevention Month and during the month, many in our community are joining together to raise awareness to this issue. Las Vegas Fire and Rescue has teamed up with Safe Nest to help and support those that may be victims to human trafficking and domestic violence.
Brenda Jepson volunteers for Safe Nest and says human trafficking and domestic violence go hand-in-hand. “A lot of the signs are the same. We are here to make sure everyone knows what to look for in a situation, whether it be domestic violence or human trafficking.”SafeNest and LVFR are delivering trainings to all frontline staff and field crews on how to support victims when responding on domestic violence and possible human trafficking calls. Curtis Nickell is a firefighter paramedic for LVFR and took part in the vital training. “It’s troubling, especially being a father it’s something always on your mind, not something you want to hear about in your hometown.” And a troubling statistic, Nevada ranks 9th in the nation for human trafficking and seventh in the rankings of women murdered by men. Giving first responders the tools needed, to understand situations and know what to do is the goal of these very important trainings. With this help, first responders will be able to better recognize and identify signs of abuse, which can be a critical step in preventing possible homicide. Jepson says training like these are vital, “human trafficking and domestic violence are both epidemics, not only in our state, but country wide. The more people that know the signs, the more likely somebody will get help.
Many other organizations in the community are working daily to support individuals who have been impacted by this issue, often on a 24/7 basis to meet the myriad needs of clients.
Food, housing, shelter, education, transportation, legal assistance, tattoo removal, career training, childcare – all of these are services that individuals who have been exploited may need once they are able and ready to come forward to get assistance.
Some important data to be aware of:
- The most common risk factors for children to be exploited are: having experienced prior sexual abuse; having spent time in foster care; and being in situations where they have run away from home or have unstable housing. (Shared Hope International)
- According to Shared Hope International, the top five places in which children are first groomed and recruited into trafficking situations: 1. Their own social networks 2. Their home neighborhood 3. Clubs or bars 4. The internet 5. At school
Here are four ways to can help support ending sex trafficking in our community: