Advocates Raise Awarness of Human Trafficking at Columbia Summit

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COLUMBIA - U.S. Congresswoman Vicky Hartzer, R-Missouri, visited Columbia to host a summit on human trafficking Monday. The event began at 10 a.m. at the Missouri United Methodist Church and was open to the public. It included a panel of speakers, some of which were survivors of trafficking. 

U.S. government estimates said 17,500 people are believed to be trafficked into the United States each year. Some have even estimated 100,000 U.S. children are victims of trafficking within the United States in the course of a year. 

A local psychologist that attended the event, Rachael Herrington, said, "A lot of people think of human trafficking as a global issue and don't understand how it does effect us here at the state or local level. Part of that has to do with the misperception of what human trafficking really is."

According to the United Nations, human trafficking is the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. 

Hartzler said, "There were instances just last year when someone was convicted in Columbia, Jefferson City, and in Lebanon Missouri for human trafficking."

Any sign of human trafficking should be reported to the police or the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888-373-7888