Saturday, June 28, 2014

Monsters Hiding in Plain Sight by Michael Reagan and Jerome Elam

  Monsters Hiding in Plain Sight by Michael Reagan and Jerome Elam

In the darkest recesses of our minds we have always known that monsters exist. It is only when we are involuntarily thrust into an unfolding human tragedy that shocks our senses and devastates our hearts that we truly acknowledge their presence.
Our collective eyes have been opened by the discovery of monsters lurking at Penn State University in the form of Jerry Sandusky, in an Ohio house of horrors run by Ariel Castro, and the list goes on. But have we as a society drifted into a false sense of security with the removal of these harbingers of evil or do we realize that the next monster is just waiting to strike?

Monsters Hiding in Plain Sight
By Michael Reagan and Jerome Elam:

How To Identify A Human Trafficking Victim

•     Seems anxious, fearful or paranoid.  Avoids eye contact.
•    Tearfulness or signs of depression.
•    Unexplained bruises or cuts or other signs of physical abuse.
•    Appears to be in a relationship with someone who is dominating.
•    Never is alone and/or always has someone translating or answering questions on their behalf.
•    Not in control of their own finances.
•    Presents with secrecy or unable to answer questions about where they live.
•    Inconsistent details when telling their story.
•    Has no identification such as a license, passport or other ID documents.
    Inability to leave their job or residence.  Says they cannot schedule appointments.
    Being a recent arrival to the United States and does not speak English.
    Is under 18 and providing commercial sex acts.  Or at any age unwillingly providing commercial sex acts.
    Is afraid of law enforcement or receiving help from an outside entity.

If you can find an opportunity to get he/she alone, ask him/her the following screening questions:
     Can you leave your job or house when you want?
    Where did you get those bruises or is anyone hurting you?
    Do you get paid for your employment?  Is it fair?  How many hours do you work?
    (If foreign national) How did you get to the U.S. and is it what you expected?  Are you being forced to do anything you don't want to do?
    Are you or your family being threatened?
    Do you live with or near your employer?  Does your employer provide you housing?  Are there locks on doors or windows from outside?
    Do you owe debt to anyone?

If you suspect they are a victim of human trafficking,take the following actions:
    Ask the person if you can help them find a safe place to go immediately.
     If they need time, create an action plan with them to get to a safe place when they are ready.
     Call and make a report to the human trafficking hotline at 1.888.3737.888.  The hotline has language capabilities, so any individual can call directly if they choose.

The Department of Homeland Security online training about how to spot the signs of and report suspected human trafficking:

The Department of Homeland Security's Blue Campaign is now offering online training about how to spot the signs of and report suspected human trafficking. The training is aimed at the general public, the Federal workforce, first responders, and airline employees and focuses on:
    •    Defining human trafficking
    •    Differentiating between human trafficking and human smuggling
    •    Recognizing populations vulnerable to human trafficking
    •    Recognizing indicators of human trafficking   
A glossary and additional resources also are provided. View the Human Trafficking Awareness Training on the Department of Homeland Security's website:

Jerome Elam
Staff Writer and Columnist for Communities Digital News
Read my column here:
A Heart Without Compromise; Advocating for Children:  

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"The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing." - Albert Einstein

Always remember that you are never alone and that others have walked the healing path before you and are here to lift you up! Also remember that as survivors and victims, alone we may be strong but together we are unbeatable!

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