NORTHWEST ARKANSAS, (KNWA/KFTA) — Cases of human trafficking have gone up during the pandemic across the country, including in the natural state.

Human traffickers move their victims from city to city, state to state traveling on interstates like the I-49 using them for labor, their bodies and more.

A21, a nonprofit, is fighting to end what is being called “Modern-day slavery”.

Rebekah Donell is the Co-Leader of the local chapter of A-21, in Fayetteville. She says with the health crisis, kids are spending more time on the internet and on social media. She says Wi-Fi is like a door to your home and if you’re not monitoring it people can come in. By that, she means predators, coercing your kids to think they have a friend out there; someone who cares about them.

Donell says in many human trafficking cases, kids are walking right out of their front door to meet that new friend but what they don’t know is that they are walking right into danger.

“It’s hard when we are looking for acceptance as children and as teenagers right now in the world especially during the pandemic feeling so disconnected…. but I think it is important to know that there are predators out there,” said Donell.

Human trafficking comes in many forms but Donell says sex trafficking and child pornography are more common in NWA.

She urges parents to talk to their kids about the stranger danger that takes place online and about not accepting friend requests or messages from someone they don’t know.

Look out for signs of your kids being more secretive, pulling away and showing up with new items. Predators like to groom their victims, and gifts are a way to help build that relationship and that trust.

Donell says education is key to preventing cases of human trafficking adding anyone; men, women, and children can fall victim to a predator.

Education and awareness can happen in the homes, in schools or community groups and beyond. The important thing is more people know what human trafficking is, how to identify it and how to prevent it from happening.

A21 also work with survivors in the healing process providing safe housing, counseling and legal services.

This Saturday, October 16, across the globe, including here in Fayetteville folks will be walking silently for freedom.

“For us, it means that we can really make a difference, spreading awareness and for victims being able to walk, it’s part of their story and what they have overcome,” said Donell.

Walk for Freedom

  • Sat., October 16, 2021 at 9 a.m.
  • Starts at Wilson Park
  • Register A21.Org/walk

The silent walk starts at Wilson Park at 9 am. Those who participate will make their way to different parts of Fayetteville passing out flyers about human trafficking. The walk will end at one of their partner businesses, Doomsday coffee.

If you cannot come in person you can register for a virtual walk on your own. You can also support their efforts by volunteering, fundraising and continuing to spread awareness about human trafficking and how to end it.

A21 – Parent Guides for Kids & Teens : These parent guides have been designed to help safeguard children so that human trafficking can be prevented before it even begins.

Click here for Parent Guide for kids.

Click here for Parent Guide for teens.

Call 1-888-373-7888 ( TTY: 711)|*Text 233733 NATIONAL HUMAN TRAFFICKING HOTLINE