CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has recognized January as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month with multiple training events as part of his office’s continued effort to eradicate the growing criminal industry.
Human trafficking is defined as commercial sex or labor that is induced by force, fraud or coercion. It is considered the second largest criminal industry in the world today, second only to drug trafficking according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
“Human trafficking is a crime that victimizes men, women and children of all ages,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “West Virginia is particularly vulnerable due to the opioid epidemic, poverty and a large number of children in foster care. Awareness and prevention are vital, and the goal is to educate people in their communities.”
The Attorney General’s Office kicked off National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month with a training session Jan. 4 for medical personnel at Berkeley Medical Center in Martinsburg. Staff were educated about signs of human trafficking and the proper avenues to take when reporting suspected cases.
Another training session will be offered at 7:00 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 16, at Heritage Baptist Church in Pinch. Similar events are set later in the month for school personnel in Braxton County and cadets at the West Virginia State Police Academy.
Since 2017, the Attorney General’s Office has offered the training to numerous groups including medical professionals, school personnel, social workers, law enforcement and communities. The ultimate goal is to establish greater awareness and increase overall reporting of the issue throughout the state.
Anyone who suspects someone may have been forced into human trafficking, should call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888-373-7888 and contact local law enforcement.