TAMPA, Fla. — The pandemic has led to a lot of changes and for human traffickers, it's creating a world wide web of opportunity.
That's why the University of South Florida and the Junior League of Tampa are partnering to hold a free virtual meeting on Tuesday night to discuss how to identify and combat human trafficking.
"Human trafficking is severely underreported. So, a lot of times people don't necessarily know the signs to look for human trafficking and that's why it's so underreported and then especially with COVID, with this new dependency that we put on technology. Unfortunately, traffickers have found new ways to target children specifically as they're you know dedicating so much time to being online for education and to connect with friends," Kaitlin Howell said.
Howell is the chair of the human trafficking committee with the Junior League. January is Human Trafficking Prevention Month and while it's a topic she and so many others wish wasn't an issue, she said it's important to remain vigilant in tracking and identifying the warning signs.
Experts on various topics regarding human trafficking will offer their knowledge about the subject and will take questions and comments after they have spoken.
"We have a human trafficking attorney who works with survivors. We have two professors who have worked on anti-trafficking task forces and now work within the criminology department at USF and we are very fortunate to have an FBI agent who works with human trafficking," Howell said.
Hannah Parker McCabe serves as the advocacy manager with the Junior League and said as a philanthropic organization, putting a spotlight on what is happening in our community is part of their mission.
"This is not just like the movie, Taken. This is not what it always looks like. It looks sometimes normal to the naked eye and we want our parents to know that as technology has evolved it is ease of access for these traffickers to target these victims," McCabe said.
The meeting will be held from 7 - 9 p.m. Tuesday. For more information and to register visit https://fb.me/e/M2W1U2cv.
For more information and how to get involved with the junior league and their advocacy groups email Hannah Parker McCabe at firstname.lastname@example.org.