CLARION – With Pennsylvania ranking in the top 10 states of human trafficking cases, Rep. Donna Oberlander (R-Clarion/Armstrong/Forest) is again teaming up with the Pennsylvania State Police’s Office of Community Engagement to hold a town hall meeting on the growing crime.
The meeting is set for Thursday, Nov. 18, at 7 p.m. at the Trinity Point Church of God near Clarion.
“In early 2018, we held our first town hall meeting on human trafficking, with local residents learning a great deal about this growing and disturbing crime,” Oberlander said. “This type of forced servitude can be happening right here and is especially prevalent along major highways. That’s why I decided to hold this town hall again, so that even more people can ask questions, observe suspicious behavior regarding human trafficking and report it to proper authorities.”
The Town Hall Meeting will feature a specialist from the Pennsylvania State Police’s Office of Community Engagement who will present on both human trafficking and suspicious activities. This interactive gathering will allow those in attendance to ask questions and get answers.
Every year, thousands of men, women and children fall into the hands of traffickers. Due to the vast network of interstate highways, Pennsylvania is a popular “pass-through” state for human trafficking as it provides relatively easy access to major hubs in Ohio, New Jersey and New York. The Interstate 95 corridor, which runs through eastern Pennsylvania, also connects the entire eastern seaboard. As a result, Pennsylvania is frequently part of the movement of human traffickers.
According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, human trafficking can happen to anyone, but some people are more vulnerable than others. Significant risk factors include recent relocation, substance use, mental health concerns, involvement with the child welfare system and being a runaway or homeless youth. Often, traffickers identify and leverage their victims’ vulnerabilities in order to create dependency. Often, victims become trapped and fear leaving for myriad reasons, including psychological trauma, shame, emotional attachment, or physical threats to themselves or their family.
In this presentation, the audience will be informed of the types of human trafficking, as well as the indicators of both human trafficking victims and perpetrators. The ultimate goal of this town hall is to request assistance from the general public by reporting any and all indicators that could be related to trafficking and prevent further victimization.
“Knowing the warning signs of human trafficking is essential to finding victims,” Oberlander added. “Paying attention to suspicious behavior at a local business could be just what police need to bring a trafficker to justice and help the victim. I encourage anyone who is interested in the topic to join us for this informative meeting.”
The church is located at 180 West Trinity Drive, Clarion
. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m.
Representative Donna Oberlander
Pennsylvania House of Representatives