Florida advocate sounds alarm after state ranks third in human trafficking cases
PENSACOLA, Fla. — We’re about two weeks into the new year and a statewide organization is already sounding the alarm for human trafficking.
Florida ranks #3 in human trafficking cases reported, according to the Florida Alliance to End Human Trafficking.
WEAR News spoke with a local advocate who is urging everyone to be aware to what’s happening around them.
The fight against human trafficking has been a long one.
The dangers for kids and younger adults is what pulled Kelli Foster into this path of helping whoever she can.
Foster may not have walked in these women’s shoes. But she walked a different path.
“As a young person, I struggled myself, I became a mother at a really young age and that in itself opened me up to a lot of at risk behaviors,” Foster, Children’s Home Society of Florida program manager said.
Children’s Home Society of Florida is a statewide organization that helps children and their families who need it the most. She says human trafficking is a serious problem everywhere.
“We do have the I-10 corridor where we do have lots of areas where youth can be taken, maybe it’s a truck stop maybe it’s a rest area,” Foster said.
The Florida Department of Children and Families reported the average age of someone trafficked is 12.
Foster says it can look different for everyone. There are some warning signs.
“Look for someone who may just seem fearful submissive to the person they’re with maybe a little paranoid or tense, they may or may not show signs of abuse it may be more psychological,” Foster said.
Foster says traffickers can be anyone — from strangers to someone you know.
“I think it’s just important for people to be mindful of what’s going on around them and in their children’s lives,” Foster said. “I think that’s the biggest part and to trust your gut because if you feel like something is amiss, sometimes, most of the time there’s something to that.”
If you see anything suspicious, say something. You can report to law enforcement or local organizations that work to fight human trafficking.