It seems like something that would only happen in a big city, but the fact is human trafficking is everywhere and happening right in your own backyard.

January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month, and it's the perfect time to educate your kids and yourself not only on human trafficking, but what to do if you suspect someone is in danger.

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Many people are just simply unaware that human trafficking is occurring, and even more, victims are unaware that there is help out there to free them from their horrific situation.

Detective Trooper Specialist Amy Belanger says parents can be proactive in protecting and educating their kids on human trafficking. Teens especially may not realize the danger they are in even when it's something as simple as an app on their phone.

"Parents with kids, especially teenagers, you have to go through their phones. A lot of these kids, the things they are doing is on their phones, and that's where they get into trouble.", Belanger said.

Belanger stresses that as much as parents want to trust what their kids are doing online, and on their phones, they should still be watchful. Check your kids phones and be aware of the apps they are using and engaging with individuals on. You may be surprised on the amount of predators that use seemingly innocent apps to look for victims.

It's true that human trafficking awareness has grown over the past few years, but there is still so much more to learn and do. The goal of law enforcement and specialty groups  is getting the word out that there is help out there for those being trafficked, or for anyone that is suspicious that someone may be in a dangerous situation. Saying something can save a life.

According to Polaris, who operates the National Human Trafficking Hotline, there was a 20% increase in the number of victims and survivors reaching out for help.

“Victims and survivors of sex and labor trafficking know their situations and their needs better than anyone and when they themselves reach out to us, we are in the best possible position to help. These numbers are a positive sign that the message ‘help is available’ is getting to the people who need to hear it most.” said  Megan Cutter, Acting Director of the National Human Trafficking Hotline.

If you suspect someone is being trafficked, you too can call the Trafficking Hotline or report your suspicions to your local law enforcement department.

You can listen to the entire interview with Detective Trooper Specialist Belanger below.

National Human Trafficking Hotline: 1-888-373-7888 or text BeFree to 233733.


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