STAND Against Trafficking hosts webinar to raise awareness in service industries

Published: Apr. 21, 2021 at 9:05 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - A Springfield group is taking a stand against human trafficking. An online seminar Thursday will teach workers in the service industry about the warning signs.

April Miller said she’s been working in the restaurant industry for about 17 years.

“I’m not just going to let people fall into an unsafe situation if I can do something about it,” Miller said.

Now a bartender, Miller said she sees more and more people put themselves in dangerous situations, meeting up with strangers in person after talking to them online. Miller said she’s not afraid to step in when she sees someone might be uncomfortable.

“You know, the guest is always right and get them what they want. I’m not going to be polite if it’s going to cause an issue in safety,” she said.

Dawn Day, chair for the organization STAND Against Trafficking, said victims can be hidden in plain sight. Day said restaurant workers are not the only service industry employees who should keep an eye out for someone who might need help.

STAND is hosting a webinar on Thursday that will aim to educate workers in hotels, hair salons, tattoo shops, landscaping and more.

“Essentially anything in the community that you can think of that is service industry, you may run across a victim of trafficking,” Day said. “What might that look like specifically to the industry you are in and what can you do to spot that?”

Day is also the Sexual Assault Program Coordinator for Mercy Hospital. She’s talked with trafficking victims who might not even realize they’re a victim but could’ve been helped sooner.

“I’m seeing victims and their hair is done and their nails are done,” she said. “There’s someone sitting across from them doing their nails. What interactions are you seeing when that’s happening?”

Day said anyone can spot the signs, whether they’re working in service or not.

“They will be controlled in their actions. They won’t be allowed to speak,” she said. “We always say, does the situation look off? Do you have a much, much older person with a much younger girl with a boyfriend concept?”

Bottom line, if you see something, say something.

The National Human Trafficking Hotline number is 1-888-373-7888. To contact the Missouri State Highway Patrol about concerns with trafficking, call 1-800-525-5555 (or *55).

Miller said predators are smart and people need to protect each other.

“We need to get some things in place that really support the safety of the rest of us,” she said.

Day said the webinar will also include a presentation from a local 9-1-1 dispatcher, who will discuss the information authorities might need from anyone who calls to report possible trafficking.

The free webinar is open to the public. It runs from 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. To register for the webinar, visit the STAND Against Trafficking Facebook page or follow this link.

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