Clinton Fire Department receives training on how to spot human trafficking victims

CLINTON, Miss. (WJTV) — Human trafficking is believed to be the third largest criminal activity in the world and it’s happening in our own backyard.Organizations dedicated to preventing the heinous crime are now working to inform first responders about how to spot a victim.

“We were in a rural community did a school assembly and a 13-year-old comes forward and she was telling us she wanted to kill herself and she had been contemplating suicide and we began to question her and we began to talk to her about tit and she started telling us why she wanted to kill herself it wasn’t because she was bullied,” Jody Dyes said, the National Director of Student Outreach and Awareness. “It wasn’t because of what we would consider it was because she was living a life of hell in her home her mom had been pimping her out for 4 years and that means she was 9 years old when it started.”

Dyess has spoken to more than 350,000 students about human trafficking.

“Anytime we go into a school and present this and actually give what the definition of human trafficking is especially to a minor we always have at least one kid that comes forward and says either you’re telling my story or I know someone that that’s way right now,” Dyess said.

Dyess recently designed a lesson specifically for first responders and today that lesson was presented to the Clinton Fire Department.

“We have a statistic that was presented that says about 79 percent of victims of human trafficking in safe houses now had said they had come in contact with a first responder.”

He says each situation is different and it’s important to look for the different signs of human trafficking.

“If they come up on a car accident or something and there are girls that are not permitted to speak, or there are victims there that are overbearing or controlling that’s controlling the conversation they can’t produce ID, maybe the girls have multiple hotel keys.”

“Locks on the outside of the doors rather than the inside of the doors; burglars bars on the outside of the house are designed to try to keep somebody out of the house burglar bars on the inside of the house are designed to keep somebody inside the house,” said Jeff Blackledge, Clinton fire chief.

Chief Blackledge says Central Mississippi is a prime location for traffickers.

“We sit in a prime location because we sit off I-20 runs between Atlanta and Dallas a big trafficking highway you’ve got 55 coming south from Memphis to Houston Texas which is another big trafficking highway.”

Chief Blackledge says everyone should be informed of these signs because even if just one child is saved, then that’s a job well done.

Dyess says the average age of a person lured into human trafficking is 12 to 14 years old.

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