The community was shocked when CBC recently reported that a female meth user at the young age of 15 met up with a Seaforth teen and was quickly turned into a sex trafficking victim.
It’s unfortunately an explicit illegal sex trade happening in Huron County more and more, Huron OPP Constable Jamie Stanley told The Huron Expositor last week.
The human trafficking industry estimated at $1 trillion world-wide encompasses the recruiting and transferring of people who are exploited; typically in the sex industry and many times they are forced against their will.
“It certainly has occurred in Huron County, it’s something that were aware of,” stated Stanley not elaborating on just how many cases have hit the region.
There is no clear time frame when this became apparent in Huron County, Stanley says all the authorities can do right now is work with the community and spread the word to the youth, who he believes are the prime targets.
The scary part, Stanley said is this does not just happen in the big cities, it’s popping up all over the province, including rural areas.
“Where ever there is youth, there is always going to be that potential to happen.”
For those concerned local parents out there, Stanley mentioned many ways to decrease the chances of children falling in traffickers’ hands.
It can feel like a privacy invasion, but he said sometimes it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Stanley urges parents to conduct random cell phone inspections, find out who they are communicating with and most importantly-know who they interact with on social media.
“Parents need to be involved in what their children are doing online, that starts at a very young age, it doesn’t really stop, certainly depending on the age of that child,” explained Stanley. “But when we’re talking 14 or 15 year old victims, there is certain things that can be done to (minimize these crimes from happening).”
“Who are your children’s contacts on their phone, do you know these people, ask them to take a look at their friend’s list and their followers on Instagram.”
On the police end, Huron OPP is currently “getting trained at identifying the signs in relation to something that could potentially uncover a human trafficking case”
Locally, OPP do not have a anti-human trafficking team put in place, but at anytime if such instances develop, officers from the main headquarters in Orilllia Ont. who specialize in such cases would be sent immediately to access the situation, stated Stanley.
The most ideal way for authorities to make people aware of human trafficking is to spread the word and the OPP are achieving this by holding workshops.
Seaforth saw one of the first workshops in the county to date in March of 2017 when well-known sex trafficking victim Timea Nagy held a workshop to help people identify those stuck in the deadly trade.
Since then she’s held a couple other workshops in the region as well.
Deborah Logue, Victim Services Huron County Executive Director says Sex trafficking is a growing problem; last year they received seven cases with four minors and three adults-all women.
“That’s a high number for Huron County, those are only the ones who have came forward to us to get support, imagine how many more are out there that are afraid to come forward and seek support, that’s scary,” she said in a recent interview.
In the rural parts it’s much different than the urban centres where women are shacked up in hotels and forced into the trade.
It can be a complicated and difficult thing to detect, in most instances Logue said males betray them by falsely playing the boyfriend role or other girls get involved as well.
“A girl will say come with me we are going to go to this party where older boys are it’s going to be so much fun, you get there and there are five older guys in a living room waiting for you and you are expected to perform,” stated Logue who said while mentioning the most vulnerable in the school sector are those in Grade 9 and 10. “You have no out, because you are in the middle of the country, you are at an abandoned farm house, what ever it is and you are trapped there, and you are forced to have sex.”
Logue said the younger generation need to stop covering for these perpetrators and more people need to speak up on sex trafficking.
“This does happen in rural areas, this is just not a (city) problem, it’s happening in our small town community where every body thinks everything is hunky dory, it’s not.”