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January is human trafficking prevention and awareness month

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Human trafficking continues to be a public health concern in Tennessee. Through mid-December 2021, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s Human Trafficking Hotline had received 1,185 tips or leads related to human trafficking concerns. This January, which is recognized as National Human Trafficking Awareness Month, the Tennessee Department of Health encourages Tennesseans to learn risk factors, red flags, and resources for human trafficking that could help save a life.

“Human trafficking continues to affect every corner of our state,” said Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey, MD, MBA, FAAP. “It is important we take every opportunity to raise awareness of human trafficking and identify victims and perpetrators quickly. Human trafficking happens in all communities, rural and urban, and often in ways many of us would not suspect. I am proud of the work our health department and leaders across Tennessee State Government have done to combat this growing crisis.”

The following signs may indicate that a person is the victim of human trafficking:
•        *Unable to leave or come and go as desired
•        *Unpaid or paid very little or only through tips for his/her work
•        *Excessively long and/or unusual work hours
•       * Not allowed breaks or subjected to unusual restrictions at work
•        *Few or no personal possessions and/or identification documents
•        *Lack of control of his/her own money
•        *Not allowed to speak for him/herself
•        *Numerous inconsistencies in his/her stories
•        *Fear, anxiety, nervousness, depression, paranoia, submissive behaviors
•        *Signs of physical and/or sexual abuse, physical restraint, confinement, or torture

If you think you may know someone who needs help or have met a potential victim of human trafficking, please contact the Tennessee Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-855-558-6484 or text “BeFree” to 233722. For more information on human trafficking, please visit https://www.acf.hhs.gov/otip/about/what-is-human-trafficking.

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Tennessee continues to take a proactive approach to address this public health issue. New laws have been passed every year since 2011 to assist victims of human trafficking and increase punitive action against traffickers. Learn more about these laws at https://ithastostop.com/.

National Human Trafficking Awareness Day is recognized each year on January 11. Please join us to raise awareness of human trafficking by taking photos wearing blue and sharing them on social media, using the hashtag #WearBlueDayTN. For more information on the Blue Campaign, please visit https://www.dhs.gov/blue-campaign/wearblueday.

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