Thursday was Human Trafficking Awareness day and the Utah Coalition Against Secual Assualt held an online community education event to mark the occasion.
“One thing that often happens is we tend to think that human trafficking is not really happening in our neck of the woods, like in our neighborhood or anything like that," Allison Smith said.
Smith is the Education and Operations Specialist for the Trafficking in Persons Program at the Asian Association of Utah. She was a speaker at the online event on Thursday that discussed the issue of human trafficking in the state.
According to Smith, Utah’s Homeless Outreach Team said when a child or teenager becomes homeless in Salt Lake City, they are likely to be approached by some kind of trafficker within 24 hours. Smith said examples of tactics a trafficker may use include coercion, fraud, or force.
“I want you to think about your own personal lives, do each of you have just one other person in your life, or it can be an animal that you care about? That, to be honest, from a trafficker’s perspective is a vulnerability. And so again, anyone can get pulled into the life," she said.
Smith said it is good to always be paying attention to the people around you who lack personal possessions, don’t have a good living situation, or appear to be coached and controlled.
For more information and human trafficking resources, visit the Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault’s Facebook page.