FAYETTEVILLE, Ark., (KNWA) — 337 is the number of human trafficking cases worked in Arkansas since 2007. A local group is spreading awareness about human trafficking and giving survivors a touch of encouragement.
“These women, children and men have been through horrendous things,” said Brittany Bryant with A21 NWA for freedom.
The nonprofit organization advocates to end human trafficking and provides housing and counseling to survivors. ”They help them get an education and develop those skills so they can move out and go out into the community and rebuild their lives,” said Bryant.
Human trafficking is the act of forcing people into labor or sexual acts for profit according to the National Human Trafficking Hotline. The organization handled more than 50,000 cases across the United States since 2017. Bryant sais it’s happening in our local communities. “We have had instances in Springdale, where traffickers will look at vulnerable high school students.”
President of the National Child Protection Task Force, Kevin Metcalf said there are many ways predators find their victims. “There are kids that are being manipulated or being targeted on social media and all it takes is to get something on them.”
Metcalf said parents should keep an open communication with their children. “Maybe they will be at a stage where they can come to their parents and say hey I don’t like this conversation and where it is going.”
Supporters came together Saturday to write letters of encouragement for victims of human trafficking which will be delivered on valentine’s day. More than 50 cards were made, some have messages like you are brave, you are worth it. Supporters said their message is simple to spread a message of hope.
Kelly Beaton is one of those supporters. “I think even the smallest thing like a letter can make the biggest difference in their lives maybe even bring a little bit of cheer and they deserve that.”
“For us to come in and remedy that and restore their faith in humanity that yes they encountered these horrific people but there are people that care and people who love them, despite what they have gone through and hope they can move forward from this day forward,” said Bryant.