State maintains "B" grade for efforts to fight human trafficking

State maintains "B" grade for efforts to fight human trafficking

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - For the fifth year in a row, a national organization has given Mississippi a "B" grade for its efforts to fight human trafficking.

Shared Hope International, based in Vancouver, Washington, issues an annual state report card on human trafficking laws.

It says Mississippi has effective laws, but should make human trafficking training for law enforcement mandatory, rather than voluntary.

Some people in the Hattiesburg area who work to increase awareness of human trafficking agree and say that more work needs to be done.

"We need to improve in law enforcement training, I think we need to improve in training of healthcare workers, we need to get into the schools and make school administrators and teachers are aware of this growing problem," said Dora Harbin, Pine Belt regional director for Advocates For Freedom.

"We have a tremendous way to go," said Tamara Hurst, an assistant professor in the School of Social Work at the University of Southern Mississippi and a former member of the Mississippi Human Trafficking Task Force. "We had a lot of unity and momentum when the Mississippi Human Trafficking Task Force came together, we put together some great recommendations for the Governor. Unfortunately, I think they fell on deaf ears and nothing was ever done with it."

Shared Hope International moved Mississippi from a "D" to a "B" in 2013.