U.P. Children’s Coalition talks human trafficking

The U.P. Children’s Coalition brought issues that affect vulnerable children to light, today, during the “Fostering Resilience” Conference in Marquette.

Topics spanned the child development spectrum. Subjects like building “Resiliency in Foster Children” and “Drug Exposed Infants” were explored by professionals in the field.

The recent kidnapping incident in Cleveland evoked a national response, and the Women’s Center is hoping residents understand it can and does happen, even in the U.P..

“Mackinac Island or even blueberry farming downstate; those have a lot of trafficking components where you have a young family or young kids who are being forced to work long hours without any sort of breaks or they’re not even of legal age to work. But they’re being held against their will because they have documentation or they have other important family needs and debts hanging over their heads from the traffickers,” remarked Amy Kordus, Youth Advocate at the Women’s Center’s Harbor House.

More often than not, the trafficker will know the family of the child. Usually, there is a promise of a chance to earn money and have a better life in the United States, but those dreams are quickly squelched. Being able to identify victims is paramount to their rescue.

“Whether they are being isolated in a certain situation, if they have the ability to leave. If there’s peonage where they do not have the freedom to do what they want, come and go. What kind of living conditions they’re in. If they’re being exploited by someone else for someone else’s benefit,” explained Kelly Laakso, Sexual Assault & Victim Advocate for the Women’s Center’s Harbor House.

If you feel anyone meets that criteria, please contact your local law enforcement, the Women’s Center’s Harbor House or the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.