SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --
Human trafficking can take on many forms, and according to the United Nations, human trafficking affects every country in the world.
Cecilia Smith, 50th Space Wing Sexual Assault Prevention and Response office sexual assault response coordinator, is also the representative for Combating Trafficking in Persons at Schriever.
“Human trafficking destroys lives and it poses a threat to national security,” she said. “Everyone needs to be educated to stop it. We need to focus on awareness so people realize it’s not just an overseas issue; it’s in [our] own backyard.”
According to the 2019 Trafficking in Persons Report, advocates report a growing trend of criminals using online social media platforms to recruit and advertise targets.
Smith said this is especially dangerous for children who can’t comprehend the threat.
“Now a days, everyone’s a friend,” she said. “There are so many children online who get friend requests and likes from strangers. In their eyes, there’s nothing wrong with that.”
To combat this, Smith advises parents to stay involved with their children’s social media activity and take any changes in behavior or warning signs seriously.
“There are indicators to watch for, such as individuals who are avoiding eye contact, aren’t speaking out, don’t know where they are or where their personal items are such as ID’s, passports, etc. and who can’t seem to go off on their own,” she said.
Special Agent Michael Franklin, Air Force Office of Special Investigations Detachment 807, advises Airmen to report anything that shows warning signs of human trafficking.
“Just because [indicators] are present doesn’t automatically mean human trafficking is happening,” he said. “But if you see a cluster of indicators, it might not be a coincidence. Report anything that looks suspicious, determining if it’s credible or not is our job. Whether or not anything comes out of [the allegation] is based on the facts of the investigation.”
Should Airmen come across signs of a human trafficking victim, or someone involved with human trafficking, contact AFOSI at 567-5049 to file an official report. Contact the SAPR office for more information about the Combating Trafficking in Persons program at 567-7272.