Cold weather didn't prevent one dedicated person from getting the message out about a very important topic on Saturday. A human sex trafficking awareness class was held at the public library in Austin.
Lia Culbert with anti-trafficking service provider Mission 21 says she became dedicated to educating people about the dangers of the practice after a brothel was raided a block from her home in Austin in 2007. Saturday's free workshop gave an overview of sex trafficking and its impact in southeast Minnesota. Mission 21 is committed to helping victims of this practice. Today's workshop gave definitions, stats, and tips on how to identify sex trafficking.
"I think it's more prevalent than people want to admit to or realize," Culbert says, "But it presents itself in ways that we're not used to seeing. When we think about trafficking or prostitution as it's referred to, we think of something that happens on the street or on the street corner. But in today's society in this day and age, there are many people that are being victimized online."
Culbert says many of the warning signs of human trafficking can be issues people may have in their lives like homelessness or drug addiction. One of the big things to look for is a change in behavior such as somebody buying big-ticket items they ordinarily wouldn't be able to afford without a good answer for how they got the money the make the purchase.
Mission 21 says their community education team is getting requests all the time to speak at events for a number of organizations in southeast Minnesota.