Center of Violence Prevention reports major uptick in human trafficking reports during pandemic

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PEARL, Miss. (WJTV) — Our lives have all been changed because of COVID-19, but Sandy Middleton at the Center of Violence prevention said “Traffickers have not.”

I-20 is one of their favorite spots to make a move.

Middleton explained that in the last four months, there’s been a major surge, particularly among children.

“Kids are out of school, it’s summertime,” Middleton said. “They want to be occupied and, you know, the kids are on their phones and tablets pretty heavily.”

Middleton added that since the pandemic has begun, they’ve seen a 40% increase.

“Typically, that means a crisis situation,” Middleton added. “A victim has been recovered.”

She said that it’s more common for traffickers to target people that they know personally, even family members. An anonymous survivor explained.

“My dad when he needed to pay the bills– he would send me to a friend of his,” she explained. “Then things would go on, and our light bill would be paid or there’d be groceries. At six months old was the first time and they finally removed me from the home at 11 years old.”

President Trump recently allocated $35,000 to aid trafficking survivors. Middleton said her organization will benefit from this.

“We’re certainly grateful for the level of support we’re getting from the white house on trafficking,” Middleton said.

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