Know the Signs of Human Trafficking Hears Local Symposium

More than 250 people representing 43 different youth agencies in Windsor and Essex County are getting a behind-the-scenes look at human trafficking.

Essex County OPP is hosting an "At Risk Youth Symposium" Thursday at the Ciociaro Club aimed at raising awareness of the risk factors to prevent  youth from becoming victims.

According to Ontario's Strategy to End Human Trafficking, some of the signs include youth not being allowed to speak for themselves, they show signs of abuse, are under nourished or have branding tattoos.

At risk youth include youth who struggle with low self-esteem, bullying, live in poverty and are isolated.

Essex County OPP Staff Sergeant Brad Sakalo says the event is about educating those who are involved with youth to know the signs.

"We found through investigations that victims of human trafficking exhibit risk factors that we know can be dealt with early on and in addressing those in youth could prevent further victimization of human trafficking." says Sakalo.

Human Trafficking survivor Jen Devoe from Nova Scotia was a guest speaker at the event and says her journey started early.

"It started when I was a kid, I was bullied, trying to fit in all the time and then things kinda happened in my life and I became a drug addict and was in an abusive marriage," she says. 

She managed to leave the abusive marriage, but the suffering didn't end when she entered another relationship.

"I got fed more drugs, I became more dependent on him," she says.  "I realized about two years into the relationship that I was being human trafficked that I kinda had an idea, but it didn't sink in. I didn't want to admit that that's what is going on with me."

CrimeStoppers Police Co-ordinator Constable  Amanda Allen says anyone who suspects human trafficking, should call CrimeStoppers because in many cases, the victims won't seek help.

"A lot of times a victim will confide in a close friend, they are scared to go to law enforcement."

People who want to submit a tip to CrimeStoppers regarding human trafficking and remain anonymous, should email P3tips.com

Some of the community agencies involved in the symposium include Youth Diversion, New Beginnings, the Children's Aid Society and School Boards.

The symposium was not open to the public due to the sensitive nature of the presentations.