NDSU Holds Human Trafficking Prevention Workshop to Teach People About Warning Signs

Human trafficking can happen anywhere from small towns to big cities

FARGO, N.D. — It’s a topic that hits closer to home than you may think. The Sexual Assault Prevention team at NDSU held a human trafficking workshop to teach people about the warning signs.

One of the key points presenters wanted to drive home is human traffickers aren’t necessarily scary–looking people. They can be people you see in everyday life. There have been cases of law enforcement, accountants and reverends taking part in human trafficking.

“I think our goal is always awareness. Because you don’t know what’s here if you don’t know what to look for,” Megan Lundborg, survivor advocate at Youthworks, said.

Traffickers usually prey on people who are vulnerable. Those can be people who’ve run away from home, are addicted to drugs or have had a history of sexual abuse. Traffickers often lure victims with the promise of a good life, creating a type of dependency that victims get stuck in.

It’s not something that just happens in big cities. There have been cases in towns as small as Gwinner, North Dakota.

“It’s not held in one place, but it definitely is more prevalent or more seen here. We do have the interstates here in Fargo so that is a huge aspect to how it ends up here and how it’s growing,” Lundborg said.

Organizers say college is also a vulnerable time for students, who are often away from home and don’t have a support system.

“They’re in a new place, they’re trying to make friends, they want to be accepted, that’s just social norms, and we don’t like rejection and our traffickers definitely know how to prey on those types of things,” Lundborg said.

“I think the age group we are, being away from family, we don’t have a lot of support around here, so I think people could get in a situation where trafficking could potentially happen,” Jenna Bieber, a violence prevention educator, said.

Speakers also say North Dakota has made great strides towards expungement laws for crimes victims may have committed while being trafficked. That way they can have better access to housing and jobs.

Ultimately, the goal of the workshop is to make more people aware of human trafficking, because that way, there’s a better chance of ending it.

“If they happen to see a situation potentially, even it’s not actual trafficking, if they think, at least they can intervene and possibly save someone’s life,” Alexis Zuniga, another violence prevention educator, said.

If you’ve been experienced assault, abuse or trafficking, there are links to help here and here.

Categories: Crime, Local News, North Dakota News