FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Right now, Fort Wayne law enforcement is working four human trafficking cases.These cases are increasing, but experts suspect it’s because more people are being taught what to look out for.
The numbers shed the most light on the problem of human trafficking and who the victims are. About 18,000 people were trafficked in the U.S. last year with 50 percent being children, and 75-percent of victims being trafficked into sex work.
Allen Superior Court and Great KIDS Make Great COMMUNITIES got a panel together to tell child advocates and some members of the public how they can spot a victim. Some things the general public could look out for include seeing a young girl with older men, noticing an attitude change among children you interact with, or spotting a young person with multiple cell phones.
Intuition is key.
“If something does look off you can always report it,” Indiana Trafficking Victims Assistance Program Northeast Regional Coordinator Chelsea Shelburne said.
Shelburne said Indiana State Police investigated 40 human trafficking cases in 2014 and more than 60 in 2015. She suspects it’s due to more resources and a more educated public causing those numbers to go up.
“Since we have been out there working with the public and working with the community, educating different youth serving agencies, we see an uptick almost after every time we do a training,” Shelburne said.”
This year the YMCA Safe Place was established in Allen County. It’s a place homeless children can get help. Organizers hope kids will call the line first before they are preyed upon, which can happen quickly after running away from home.
“One in three [victims] within the first 48 hours can be lured into prostitution,” YMCA Safe Place Coordinator Amy Dahm Just said.
Right now all county YMCA locations are safe place sites.