USM creates Center for Human Trafficking Research and Training
HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - Southern Miss is taking action to help combat human trafficking in the state.
The University of Southern Mississippi’s School of Social Work is creating the Center for Human Trafficking Research and Training in the Joseph Greene Hall on the Hattiesburg campus.
“We do know the exploitation is here and that people misunderstand what trafficking is,” said Tamara Hurst, associate professor and co-director of the center.
Hurst said the center’s purpose is to create better anti-human trafficking policies, legislation and victim services in Mississippi.
“The center was created to become a depository of data collection, to look at system responses, to look at our human trafficking response protocols, to get into the response to human trafficking deeper than just training can provide,” said Hurst.
The center’s team will also help streamline data collection and management to help prevent the spread of misinformation concerning human trafficking.
“There’s a lot of misleading data out there,” said Hurst. “We don’t really know much this is having an impact is having on our state; the data is not always accurate. We can look at numbers of reports, but we don’t know how many investigations, we don’t know the numbers of youth or adults, but we do know the exploitation is here and that people misunderstand what trafficking is.”
According to Hurst, human trafficking doesn’t just include sex trafficking but also selling people for labor.
“People think that you have to be kidnapped, or you have to be carried across a county line, state line or border,” said Hurst. “None of that has to happen for trafficking to occur.”
Hurst added that the center’s focus right now is writing funding proposals and structuring the system of care.
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