SEVERN, Md. (WJZ) — Outnumbered and outmanned. Victims’ rights groups nationwide say human trafficking is the second largest crime.
Gigi Barnett explains why one of those groups is turning to churches for help.
Baltimore Washington Thurgood Marshall Airport and a large truck plaza in Howard County near Jessup are two of the state’s hottest spots when it comes to human sex trafficking.
That’s according to The Samaritan Women organization, a Baltimore-based victims’ rights group.
“People want to think that this isn’t really happening, so we have to make it real for them,” said Samaritan Women founder Jean Allert. “And I think that moves people to say, ‘Wait a second, this is in my backyard.'”
That’s why Allert is reaching out to community groups and churches across the state. This weekend, she’s at Grace Point Church in Severn, asking members to keep their eyes peeled to the crime and report it.
“Their best tips come from good Samaritans, come from people who are just in their own community, saying `This does not look right in my community. Why are there those people hanging out in front of the middle school?'” Allert said.
Across the state, more than 1,100 children are unaccounted for at any given time. The state earned a “D” when it comes to creating laws against human trafficking. That’s why victims’ rights groups like The Samaritan Women say more churches need to get involved.
“I’m thinking, also, I want to see what we can do this session to maybe get some more laws on the books to decriminalize the children,” said Grace Point Church member Linda Smith.
It’s a noble goal for members of this church. Allert says they’ll need many more houses of worship doing the same.
“If you see a house down the street that seems to have traffic all night and day and it just looks suspect, it is incumbent upon us to say something,” she said.
The Samaritan Women is hosting seminars to teach churches how to recognize the signs of human sex trafficking. If you’d like more information, click here.
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