By Carolyn Krause
Human trafficking—forcing people into sex acts or labor against their will—is a growing threat to children, students, and young adults worldwide. It’s present throughout Tennessee and our nation, regardless of economic, social, or racial background.
Teens who run away from abusive homes and those enticed to leave “good” homes by promises of a fun job or an exciting time may become victims of sex trafficking. Other youths are “rented out” as prostitutes or sold into sex slavery by their own parents, especially those addicted to drugs or challenged by economic stress.
Some 300,000 American kids are estimated to be victims, or at risk of becoming victims, of the multibillion-dollar sex trafficking industry.
Some 83 percent of victims in confirmed sex-trafficking incidents were identified as U.S. citizens, and nearly half of those involved were under the age of 18. Most confirmed labor-trafficking victims in the U.S. were identified as undocumented immigrants (67 percent) or legal immigrants (28 percent).
Although not widely publicized, the problem is receiving more attention. Later this month in Oak Ridge, Barbara Farmer-Tolbert, a detective for the General Investigative Bureau Division of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office in Memphis, will speak on “Sex Trafficking: America’s Prostituted Children.”
She will lecture on the topic on Wednesday, October 28, at 7:30 p.m. and on Thursday, October 29, at 3 p.m. in the City Room, A-111, Coffey-McNally Building, Oak Ridge Campus, Roane State Community College, 701 Briarcliff Avenue.
The Oak Ridge chapter of Church Women United and the Roane State International Education Department will sponsor the evening lecture. The afternoon lecture is the second talk in the 2015-16 Roane State–Oak Ridge Institute for Continued Learning Intergenerational Lecture Series. It is sponsored by ORICL.
A motivational speaker and associate minister at her church, Detective Tolbert will address various questions: Who are the traffickers? How are victims recruited? What terminology does the sex trafficking population use? What do children and teens need to learn to avoid becoming victims of human trafficking?
Detective Tolbert has worked in law enforcement for more than a decade. She was the first African American female to graduate with the highest academic average from the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office. She was the first female to be awarded Life-Saving Officer, Officer of the Year, and Top Cop 2014-2015 for Shelby County.
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