Local United Way group invites public to attend virtual training on human trafficking

Wulf James-Roby
The Daily Ardmoreite

Human trafficking is a widespread and often-invisible crime that takes place both around the world and in our own backyards. Human trafficking is defined as the act of compelling someone into work or commercial sex acts through force, fraud, or coercion.   

Although it is illegal everywhere, human trafficking happens everywhere, including in our own community. Whether or not we recognize it, this is an issue we all touch every day through both our professional and personal lives. 

 "This is a topic I am passionate about,” said local United Way Director Daela Echols. "With three of the five counties we serve being right on I35 and centered directly in between Oklahoma City and Dallas, we are in a prime location for Human Trafficking.”

Echols said she has collected data on trafficking in our region.  Of Oklahoma’s 77 counties, there are three nonprofits in two counties that have Oklahoma Office of the Attorney General certification to provide services to help adult human trafficking survivors. Recent statistics, as of 12/31/19, reflected by the National Human Trafficking Hotline says that entity alone has had 328 contacts with 109 cases reported involving 207 victims of human trafficking in Oklahoma.

“I've read publications about individuals from the  Ardmore, Ada and Gainesville areas conducting acts of human trafficking here,” Echols said. “So when the opportunity arose to have a virtual learning and awareness event over this topic I immediately responded."   

Fortunately, as a community, we are positioned to drive a powerful, unified strategy to combat human trafficking together. United Way of South Central Oklahoma is set to host the  virtual event Understanding Human Trafficking: The Intersections & Complexities. The hour-long Live Learning Session co-hosted with United Way Worldwide’s Center to Combat Human Trafficking will take place on December 1 at 1:00 pm. The event will be co-facilitated by a team of survivor leaders who are experts in the anti-human trafficking movement. The session will provide an overview of the issue of human trafficking, as well as information on how we can strategically and collectively combat it in our community.    

 For more details on the training or to register, please visit https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_zr17K5GNQQWoXBpSQhruNw.