SARASOTA, Fla. -- As the Tampa Bay area continues to practice social distancing and the new safer-at-home orders being enforced, local nonprofits are concerned about what that could mean for the people they help.
Selah Freedom, a nonprofit based in Sarasota, can no longer meet in person with all of the the human trafficking victims it serves. So, I-Team Investigator Kylie McGivern found the group is moving its educational training online during the pandemic.
The classes are geared toward middle and high school students, and parents, and warn about human traffickers luring kids online.
The training aims to educate adults on the red flags to look for online through social media, and how to protect children and talk with them about this issue.
Kyra Montaque, Selah Freedom’s Southeast Prevention Coordinator, told the I-Team the trainings are more important now than ever with so many kids spending more time online.
“We don’t want to lose them. Even though we’re not in the school setting where we would normally meet them, or in the community where we would normally meet them, we still want to be able to connect with them,” said Montaque.
Selah Freedom told the I-Team 70% of sex trafficking in minors starts online. And one out of every nine children are approached by a predator online.
‘We want to talk about what that initial contact looks like, from someone that they may meet online, and how to navigate those types of conversations so that they aren’t being exploited and not being taken advantage of,” said Montaque.
The virtual training for adults will be offered April 9 at 5:30 p.m., and the training for middle and high school students will be available April 16 at 5:30 p.m. for those whose parents signed them up at the April 9 training.
Here’s the link to register for the free classes: https://www.selahfreedom.com/events
If you believe you are a victim of Human Trafficking or suspect an adult is a victim of human trafficking, please visit the National Human Trafficking Hotline, or call them at 1-888-3737-888. If you suspect a child is a victim, please call the Florida Abuse Hotline at 1-800-96-ABUSE.
If you have something you'd like the I-Team to investigate, you can call 1-866-428-NEWS or email firstname.lastname@example.org.