That’s according to the Executive Director of Heartly House in Frederick..
Frederick, Md (KM) Those engaged in human trafficking in America are often thought of as coming from foreign countries. But Inga James, Executive Director of Heartly House, says most of these individuals were born in the United States, and have family here.
During a recent appearance on WFMD’s “Success Happens,” James made a shocking statement. “There are parents who traffic their children,” she said.
James said human trafficking, which is mostly prostitution, is a multi-billion-dollar business, and it’s tempting to people who don’t have any morals to want to get into it. “But yes, there are fathers that will trade their daughters for money to their friends, their friends’ friends, to anybody that they can. Or drugs; trade for drugs as well,” she said.
James said it’s often difficult some times to take down these operations because some of the victims don’t feel they’re being trafficked. “Many of them believe they’re in some sort of relationship, whether it’s a familial relationship such as an uncle or a father, or a boyfriend type of relationship,” she said.
Because human trafficking is a very secretive business, it’s often difficult to spot any signs that someone is a victim. “One of the things that we’re starting to do is to train hotel workers to identify red flags. And actually a perpetrator was arrested because somebody at a hotel in Frederick saw a young girl, looked way too young to be dressed the way she was dressed, and called the police,” says James.
A few years ago, the Frederick County Council approved an ordinance requiring hotel and motel owners and operators to train their employees on how to recognize the signs of human trafficking.
But James says police departments and other investigators do not have the resources to identify and take down these businesses. “It’s a very, very, secret industry, and our law enforcement and other investigative parties, like Child Protective Services, are not equipped to deal with the incidents. There’s just too many,” she says.
Heartly House has been working with victims of human trafficking. James says a counselor is available to help these individuals. Last year, she says, Heartly House assisted about 31 victims of human trafficking., which James calls “a drop in teh bucket,” noting that there are many more out there who have not come forward seeking help.
If you or someone you know is a victim of human trafficking, you can call Heartly House at 301-662-8800, or the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-3737-888.
By Kevin McManus