A new outlet to increase awareness of the tragedy of Human Trafficking in King County was unveiled last week on a billboard along the East Valley Highway in Kent.
The ad space, donated by Clear Channel Outdoors, will advertise a national hotline and messaging aimed at reaching out to victims, potential victims and the public about where to turn for help. The 15 electronic and traditionally displayed billboards are located in Seattle along the Interstate-5 corridor, in Kent and Tukwila as well as Tacoma, Mill Creek and Bellingham.
“This issue isn’t going away and I am pleased we are taking steps to alert the public about the horrors of human trafficking and where help is available to victims," said Metropolitan King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn.
Human trafficking, defined as compelling a person into any form of labor against their will, is one of the fastest growing criminal industries in the world, after illegal guns and drugs. Children account for half of the victims. Human trafficking can occur in any industry, including agriculture, construction, domestic service, restaurants, salons, commercial sex work, massage parlors, and small businesses.
“It also sends a message to the perpetrators of this crime that our community will not stand for this," said Metropolitan King County Councilmember Julia Patterson.
The ads, in eight languages, encourage people to call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline at 1-888-3737-888 if they suspect someone may be a victim of human trafficking or if they are victims themselves.
Similar ads are being displayed on Metro Transit buses and on county websites and other resources. Clear Channel Media & Entertainment will also be airing public service announcements on their radio stations throughout the region as part of their $88,000 contribution to the awareness campaign.
According to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, the following may be signs that someone is a victim of trafficking:
- Workers who have had their ID, passport, or documents taken away
- Workers who show signs of physical and/or sexual abuse, physical restraint, confinement, or torture
- Workers who show signs of emotional abuse
- Workers who are being threatened by or are in debt to their boss
- Workers who are under 18 and are involved in the commercial sex industry
- Workers who are not free to leave or come and go from their place of work as they wish
- Workers who don't seem to be receiving payment
Source: King County