Billboards raise awareness about human trafficking

A new outlet to increase awareness of the tragedy of Human Trafficking in King County was unveiled today on a billboard along the East Valley Highway in Kent.

The ad space, donated by Clear Channel Outdoors, will advertise a national hotline and messaging aimed at reaching out to victims, potential victims and the public about where to turn for help.  The billboards 13 of which are digital and 2 traditional displays are located in the City of Seattle, the I-5 Corridor, Also in the cities of Kent and Tukwila as well as Tacoma, Mill Creek and Bellingham.

“I can’t thank Clear Channel enough for all their cooperation in this awareness campaign, they have been integral to the success of this process,” said Metropolitan King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn.  “This issue isn’t going away and I am pleased we are taking steps to alert the public about the horrors of human trafficking and where help is available to victims.”

“By increasing awareness of human trafficking we, as a community, are telling victims that there is help for them,” said Metropolitan King County Councilmember Julia Patterson.

The ads encourage people to call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline at 1-888-3737-888 if they suspect someone may be a victim of human trafficking or if they are victims themselves. The ads will run in eight languages, including Spanish, Amharic, Chinese, Korean, Russian, Tagalog and Vietnamese.

The billboard in Kent is part of a coordinated awareness campaign launched earlier this month. Similar ads are being displayed on Metro Transit buses and billboards in Seattle as well as on County websites and other resources. Clear Channel Media & Entertainment will also be airing public service announcements on their radio stations throughout the region as part of their $88,000 contribution to the awareness campaign.

Human trafficking, defined as compelling a person into any form of labor against their will, is one of the fastest growing criminal industries in the world, after illegal guns and drugs. Children account for half of the victims. Human trafficking can occur in any industry, including agriculture, construction, domestic service, restaurants, salons, commercial sex work, massage parlors, and small businesses.

According to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, the following may be signs that someone is a victim of trafficking:

•Workers who have had their ID, passport, or documents taken away

•Workers who show signs of physical and/or sexual abuse, physical restraint, confinement, or torture

•Workers who show signs of emotional abuse

•Workers who are being threatened by or are in debt to their boss

•Workers who are under 18 and are involved in the commercial sex industry

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