By Beth Cox
Mayor, Mike Taylor signed a proclamation last week to recognize the week of July 29-August 3 as Human Trafficking Week in Johnson County.
Johnson County Sheriff, Eddie Tester, and County Attorney Perry Stout were also on hand to acknowledge support for the proclamation.
Tester emphasized that he understands that “Johnson County needs to be vigilant regarding human trafficking.
“We border two states, so we are aware of human trafficking regarding the county,” Tester said. “All officers have attended in-services and have been trained to recognize the signs of human trafficking.”
Johnson County Health Educator Angie Stout also acknowledged that the health department employees had been trained on how to respond to this heinous crime and understand the importance of the proclamation. “Johnson County is just a few hours from several big cities but is also somewhat of a remote area which could be a potentially good location to harbor victims, so it is important to know what human trafficking is and what to look for,” Stout said.
Human trafficking is the recruitment, harboring, transportation and provision of a person, usually a child around the age of thirteen for the purpose of a commercial sex act or labor services using force, fraud, or coercion. It is simply modern-day slavery.
The Tennessee Department of Health has recognized human trafficking as a public health concern; because of the violation of human rights and the sexual exploitation of minors, causing an increase in unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.
Tennessee has seen a 200 percent increase from 2016-2018 in the number of tips regarding sex trafficking involving a minor.
Human or sex trafficking is the second-fastest-growing criminal industry globally as a 32-billion-dollar industry.
The state of Tennessee has created the ITHASTOSTOP campaign to share information about Human Trafficking and what can be done to stop it.
Officials emphasized that the first step in stopping human trafficking is to know the warning signs, which involve physical appearance, behavioral issues, unusual possessions, and lack of control.
The Department of Health has established a human trafficking hotline for anyone who may need help or report any concerns regarding individuals who may be involved in human or sex trafficking.
The number is 1-855-55-TNHTH. (855) 558-6484.