The worst kind of traffic

January is set aside as Human Trafficking Awareness Month.

This is a time we would hope all residents of our neighborhood would develop a better awareness to a very serious problem affecting the area, state and nation.

And if you think not …just this week there was a report of human trafficking arrests made at a motel in Traverse City.

There can be no sugar coating the issue of human trafficking. It is a form of slavery and the problem is widespread.

In Mecosta and Osceola counties, individuals and organizations (both governmental and not) have joined to form the Meceola Human Trafficking Task Force – a group largely designed to better educate the public as to the issue at hand.

We salute those involved and applaud their willingness not only not to turn a blind eye to a decidedly uncomfortable topic, but also to create an effective outreach trying to better inform people of this growing cancer on our society.

According to the National Child Traumatic Stress Network there are two main forms of human trafficking. Both are hideous.

“Sex trafficking occurs when people are induced by force, fraud or coercion into the commercial sex trade against their will. This includes any child involved in commercial sex (Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children.) Sex traffickers frequently target vulnerable people with histories of abuse and then use violence, threats, lies, false promises, debt bondage or other forms of control and manipulation to keep victims involved in the sex industry. CSEC and sex trafficking exists within the broader commercial sex trade — often at much larger rates than most people realize — and has been found in a variety of venues, including residential brothels, hostess clubs, online escort services, fake massage businesses, strip clubs and street prostitution.”

Also part of human trafficking is labor trafficking.

“Labor trafficking occurs when people are induced by force, fraud or coercion to perform labor or services. Labor traffickers frequently target vulnerable people with histories of abuse and then use violence, threats, lies, false promises, debt bondage or other forms of control and manipulation to keep control over their victims. Child labor trafficking occurs in agriculture, domestic servitude, peddling and sales crews, and service industries, such as restaurants.”

During this month of awareness, we encourage every resident of our counties to open their eyes to a very real problem closer at hand than some may think.

Visit a local library to study materials provided by the Meceola Task Force team. Research the topic and find what you can do to help fight a growing scourge in our communities — both immediate and extended.

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