Human Trafficking In The Local Area


Natalie, News Editor

 Human trafficking has been a prevalent issue in Rockford and the surrounding areas for many years. It has become something far worse than just a kidnapped child or person and being sold. It’s manipulation, torture and expulsion. Rockford has recently been named second in the state for human trafficking and there’s a strong reason why. It’s almost too dangerous to go anywhere without someone because of how easy it is to grab someone or to kidnap them when they are by themselves. When a person is by themselves, they are usually more aware of their surroundings, but this isn’t the case for everyone. When you get accustomed to going into a store, you know where things are and know what you need when you go in.

     Going in alone can be dangerous even if you are used to the setting. Most times, predators will abduct someone in their setting. They are used to being in a place they know, so they aren’t as careful about their settings even when they feel safe there, which gives the abductor an advantage to catch you off guard. I’ve personally experienced this when I was down in Rockford shopping. I was just getting a few items for school lunch that week and when I got into my car, I looked behind me and realized someone was trying to get into my car. Not only was it scary, but i had absolutely no idea that the guy has followed me from the store to my car. The chances of a woman getting taken is significantly higher when she is getting into her car than anywhere else.

    After the incident, I, along with some other friend of mine and my cousin, took some self defense classes from a pro. It was incredibly insightful and useful. Luckily I haven’t had to use it yet, but if I ever needed to, I probably could.

      The media portrays women as the most likely ones as risk, but both women and men are significantly at risk. In 2017, men were slightly more at risk than women were. There is an emphasis placed on human trafficking to be taught to mostly girls, but both genders are easily at risk. Human trafficking has affected mostly girls and women, but recently boys and men have been at the same or even greater risk than women. Regardless of gender, human trafficking is a potential danger to anyone. Officials in Rockford have been trying to solve the problem for years, but the numbers have slowly and steadily increased over time.

     In order to know whether or not human trafficking exists in a certain area, you should learn how to spot the signs. If you believe someone may be currently human trafficked, look at all the details before calling 911. You can spot the signs by looking if the person is malnourished, anxious or looks distant. They also aren’t allowed to go far or are confined to a space and are usually watched 24/7. They also may not know where they are or their story doesn’t add up or has too many inconsistencies. Granted, not every single person will exhibit these exact signs. They will vary, but one step to helping lower the human trafficking stats, is to be aware of how to spot the signs.

     Besides just human trafficking, North has had a specialist from the Rockford Sexual Assault counseling come every year to talk about the subject of Sexual Assault. Human trafficking and sexual assault may not go exactly hand in hand, but they are very close in context of abuse. It’s important for any person to know what to do if a person tries to kidnap them, hurt them or anything of that nature. Erin’s law, which was implemented by Erin Merryn after she was assaulted, talks about body safety and prevention of assault. Sexual assault, human trafficking and sensitive topics will always be a touchy or awkward subject to talk about, but it’s crucial for that person to be heard and understood. You never understand what someone has gone through until you tell them that you are willing to listen. In our society, we have to look after one another, no matter what.