Human Trafficking Prevention Month
By Matt Duenes, Voice of Hope Community Relations Coordinator
January is recognized as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. One of the many functions of Voice of Hope is to walk with survivors of sex trafficking in their everyday lives as they transition into a life free from exploitation. Sex trafficking occurs when a trafficker uses force, fraud, or coercion to compel another person to engage in a commercial sex act. Sex trafficking doesn’t just happen in larger communities and in West Texas, it rarely looks like what we see in movies. Texas has the second-highest reports of sex trafficking cases in the United States. It is not only happening everywhere, but it is happening in our own community.
Everyone has the power to make a difference in the fight for freedom from sex trafficking. We all do not have to do the same thing, but we can all do something. In 2021 the Lubbock County Care Coordination Team (LCCCT) became one of only 14 teams across the State of Texas that provides case management and wrap-around services for minors that are victims of sex trafficking. Here in West Texas, volunteers can partner with us to provide a voice for survivors in our local community. One of the best ways to get involved is through education. Everyone can learn to recognize the indicators of someone who may be a trafficking victim and take appropriate action. Voice of Hope is available for presentations and community education at no charge for any organization/business that is wanting to understand more about these indicators.
Along with education, Voice of Hope hosts events throughout the year to bring awareness to issues like sex trafficking. One of the upcoming events in January to highlight trafficking prevention is the Texas Blue Sand Project. On January 26th, organizations across Texas will sprinkle blue sand in the cracks of their sidewalks to let survivors know that we stand in the gap for them. We encourage you to join us and pick up your free bag of blue sand at your nearest United Express location.
Join us in January as we take the time to educate ourselves about the issue of sex trafficking and offer help, hope, and healing to survivors everywhere. Visit voiceofhopetexas.org to learn more about the ways you can get involved. Our crisis team is available to speak with you 24/7 at (806) 763-7273. We also encourage you to call the National Human Trafficking Hotline: 1 (888) 373-7888.