have one thing in common, distraction of the vulnerable. Baby seat carriers left in parking lots or on sides of roads, items being put on hoods of cars, pins being stuck into tires to create slow leaks, these are all methods for distraction, leading to abduction. Attackers hope that you will stop to look in the baby carrier, that you will get out of your car to check what is on your hood, that the slow leak leads to a flat tire that needs checked. Utilizing the vulnerability of the potential victim is the prime tactic of the predator. Keep Your Eyes Open By Julia Hage Ohio is ranked as one of the highest locations for human trafficking in the United States, fluctuating amongst the top 10 over the last few years. Of Ohio cities, Toledo is one of the main hot spots for human and sex trafficking. The intersection of interstates I-75, running North to South, and the I-80 turnpike, running East to West, gives perpetrators the perfect transportation route to accommodate this illegal, horrific activity of moving humans as goods. Awareness and attention of human trafficking has become more prevalent in recent years, though the movement and abuse of humans has been inconspicuously taking place for quite some time. Survivors of trafficking and kidnapping, and individuals who have experienced attempts of trafficking and kidnapping, are speaking out via social media platforms. Utilizing the hashtag, #HumanTraffickingAwareness, on TikTok, a community has been developed to warn against traps set by predators, provide insight from survivors, teach self-defense techniques, and share locations and information of suspicious activity. Amongst the stories posted within this hashtag, there is one key message: Keep Your Eyes Open. Be aware. Be present in your surroundings. Be cautious while alone and while interacting with strangers. And if you see something, say something. Of the information provided on TikTok, the items that seem to be most beneficial are warnings against the newest traps for kidnappings. They all The most recent warnings have been focused on location trackers. Location trackers are easily purchased in today’s day and age. They are cheap, they are small, and they work. There are also certain safeguards created to help fight against unwanted tracking. For example, Apple, whose phones are utilized by a large portion of society, has created small trackers called AirTags, meant to be used to track your own belongings. These quarter-sized trackers are inexpensive and easily synced to your device to show maps, locations, times, and movement. A great product if you easily lose or forget belongings such as keys, luggage, etc. Unfortunately, this has opened the opportunity to track people without their knowing…or so predators thought. With Apple’s products, an AirTag tracker that is not registered to your device can be detected via Bluetooth. A warning message will pop up: “Unknown Accessory Detected” “This item has been moving with you for a while. The owner can see its location” (aka your location). Stories have been told of individuals finding these trackers hidden both inside and outside their car, in their luggage, bookbags, handbags. If the tracking device is Apple, and your phone is Apple, your device can detect the unregistered tracker and the warning message pops up. A map can be populated to see where the tracking started, how long tracking has occurred, and even play a sound on the tracker to help you find it. This safeguard is a wonderful thing, but also scary and startling to think that there might be people out there tracing your every movement. Also, what if the tracker is not picked up by your phone…then what? Continuous tracking without your knowledge? Maybe. TikTok has also worked to teach more universal signals for a potential and current victims to ask for help silently and inconspicuously. The first is a hand movement that consists of folding the thumb into the palm and wrapping the other fingers into a fist. If you see this, follow behind quietly and call 9-1-1. The second is asking for an “Angel Shot” at a restaurant or bar. If you ask for this shot, the bartender will help you to safety, if you ask for an “Angel Shot with lime”, the waiter or bartender will contact the police. There is a plethora of information Page 5 available to help you stay safe and become educated about human trafficking. January is Sex Trafficking Awareness Month, so take the time to learn how to protect yourself, your loved ones, and all those who are in desperate need for help and humanity. Take a moment to understand the signs of a human trafficking victim, and always keep your eyes open, for yourself, and for your community. States. It’s estimated that 50,000 people per year come from Mexico and the Philippines. Laura Parker is the co-founder, president, and CEO of Exodus Road, a donation-based organization that develops and engages people with programs to end human trafficking. She and her husband Matt Parker started the organization about ten years ago after a life-changing experience when Matt, a youth pastor, received an offer to run a children’s home in northern Thailand. Exodus road: A way out for sex trafficking victims Human trafficking is a lucrative trade that thrives on suffering. Although widespread, it is an issue that most have little awareness or knowledge of. For Laura and Matt Parker, witnessing trafficking first-hand while working in Thailand was a call to action. Ten years on, their organisation Exodus Road is going from strength to strength. By Cat Evans Human trafficking is an ongoing and widespread problem that the majority of society knows little about. There is no discrimination when it comes to the victims of trafficking; it impacts men, women, and children internationally. Statistically, however, women and girls are disproportionately impacted. According to freetheslaves.net, “an estimated 71 per cent of enslaved people are women and girls, while men and boys account for 29 per cent.” Trafficking is highly lucrative, with global profits sitting around roughly $150 billion a year – humanrights. org estimates $99 billion of trafficking profits come from commercial sexual exploitation. The majority of trafficking comes into the United Once they were overseas, Matt began working at an all-girls home. Trafficking wasn’t even on his radar until he heard about ‘Johns’ – people who recruited young girls and trafficked them. “It brought this overwhelming sense of responsibility to me,” he says. “I was running a children’s home with 48 girls in it; they were all from these villages.” From there, Matt started to investigate different villages to find out if the rumors were true. Everywhere he went, trafficking was a known issue – and even worse, it was a normal issue. “It struck me that something was happening that was systemic,” Matt tells me. He and his team met with law enforcement, who invited them to be their consultants and do research on human trafficking. They realized no one was looking for victims of trafficking. The civilians and nonprofits rely on the police, and the police are often corrupt and preoccupied. “This was a significant discovery for us,” Matt explains. To get the police involved, there needed to be solid evidence and verifiable information. Matt sought out informants to do the job and find tangible evidence but fell short because of the significant dangers that going undercover imposed. Growing more frustrated, he and a couple of his close friends took matters into their own hands. Matt was as serious about this cause as he was about his wife and children. Continue to Page 6

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