On Friday, Cullman Mayor Woody Jacobs proclaimed January 2021 “Human Trafficking Awareness Month” in the City of Cullman. On hand to accept the proclamation were Cullman County Human Trafficking Task Force members District Judge Wells R. “Rusty” Turner, III, District Judge J. Chad Floyd, Cullman County Juvenile Probation Officer & Task Force Chairperson Kathy D. Wilson, and Assistant District Attorney Jeremy Cline.
“This is a real problem,” said Jacobs. “We appreciate the efforts of the Cullman County Human Trafficking Task Force to bring awareness to the danger of human trafficking in our community.”
Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery in which victims are induced through force, fraud, or coercion to work in various forms of exploitation including debt bondage, forced marriage, labor, and commercial sexual exploitation of adults and minors. The majority of human trafficking victims are pre-teens or teenagers. Young victims are often lured into traps by people they consider friends, or even by family members. Also, because of Cullman’s close proximity to I-65 and other major highways, Cullman is a prime location for perpetrators of human trafficking. And with schools being closed and financial hardships increasing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there are even more opportunities for human trafficking and fewer places for victims to turn for help.
The Cullman County Human Trafficking Task Force was organized to work with local law enforcement and other agencies to help prevent human trafficking in our community. The first step to prevent human trafficking is to educate the public. The task force strives to do that through holding public meetings and by sponsoring community events designed to explain what human trafficking is and how people can recognize it. The task force also advocates for changes in local, regional, and state policies related to human trafficking. The volunteer task force is made up of individuals from various departments and agencies throughout the community.
In the proclamation, Jacobs urged all residents to “join us in promoting a shift away from the culture of tolerance toward human trafficking, in raising the visibility of this crime, and in becoming more informed about ways to prevent, recognize, and respond to potential victims of human trafficking in our community.”
To find out more, visit the Cullman County Human Trafficking Task Force’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/Cullman-County-Human-Trafficking-Task-Force, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or stop by Karma’s Coffee House on January 11 where the Task Force is set up to share information on human trafficking.