Human trafficking continues to be a problem throughout the Mountain State, and Attorney General Patrick Morrisey is working to help our community.
His office held a training session for those in our area looking to help. Human trafficking is defined as commercial sex or labor that is induced by force, fraud or coercion. According to the attorney general’s office, it’s only growing here in West Virginia.
“It’s an unseen evil that is among us,” said Rev. Darrell Cummings of the Bethlehem Apostolic Temple.
The human trafficking training at the Bethlehem Apostolic Temple is to teach people how to recognize signs of human trafficking, how to report it, who to report it to and how to aid someone who’s been a victim. Senior Deputy J. Robert Leslie of the W.V. Attorney General’s Office tells me no matter how old you are, this is information you should know and it does effect our area.
“In West Virginia the most prevalent types of trafficking we are seeing is the type when a drug addicted parent, because of the opioid epidemic, is actually selling their own child for the purposes of covering their habit,” Sr. Deputy, W.V. Attorney General’s Office, Robert Leslie said.
Law enforcement from our area was in attendance at the meeting, but this is something they’ve been battling yet people didn’t know it was going on. Reverend Cummings admits he didn’t realize it was a problem until a Human Rights Commission meeting made him aware of how serious this situation is.
“My heart sank,” said Cummings. “It literally broke my heart that our young people could be forced into some type of slavery.”
Cummings says this training is important to our community because from what he’s told our area is a gateway for drug traffickers to use.
Leslie believes the key to helping in these situations is for people to not be afraid to help, “”One of the greatest things you can do is just look at a person who you think is in trouble and say, with true compassion, “Are you in trouble, and can I help?”‘
He says this issue is high on the priority list of the Attorney General’s office.
If you know of anyone in the area that is dealing with a human trafficking issue, and would like to help, you can call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1-(888) 373-7888 to learn more.