Miss. Secretary of State urges Hattiesburg businesses to learn the signs of human trafficking
HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - As the Hub City continues to grow, so do its tourism numbers. It also means more safety measures for local businesses.
With 90% of visitors staying overnight in Hattiesburg, Miss. Secretary of State Michael Watson said these front-line workers in hotels and restaurants are the first face many people may see when entering the Magnolia State. They can also be the first to witness human trafficking.
“Many times, our folks at hotels or campgrounds, you name it, are going to see people coming in and out of their establishments staying overnight,” said Watson. “And, when they can see these signs that may indicate human trafficking, we want to make sure they are part of our time recognizing what human trafficking may look like.”
Watson said some of these signs include witnessing people who have multiple cell phones, noticing one person who does all the talking in a group when asked a question and noticing an individual with a history of STDs or trauma in a hospital setting.
“One of the things we want to do is travel around the state,” Watson said. “Many times, folks can’t get to Hattiesburg for an event, can’t get to Jackson, so we are going to be doing these multiple times around the state, the more folks you can educate.”
An estimated 24.9 million people worldwide have been a victim of human trafficking, according to the U.S. Department of State.
Watson said it’s important for businesses to join together to make a community a safer place.
“It’s not just theory, it’s on the ground saving lives,” Watson said. “So as we can educate Mississippians on the signs to look for and to whom to report that, the more we can do with saving lives across our state.”
To help further educate businesses and people about signs of human trafficking, Watson has raised awareness through his statewide initiative, Mississippi Business Against Trafficking.
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