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Human trafficking arrests made in Eastern Arkansas

Published: Oct. 12, 2021 at 8:06 PM CDT
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JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - Last week, four people, including an attorney, were arrested in West Memphis, each charged with connections to the human trafficking of a 17-year old girl.

It’s a situation that Megan Mitchell-Brown, executive director of Hope Found of Northeast Arkansas, says we can learn from.

“Human trafficking doesn’t discriminate,” Mitchell-Brown said. “It’s just as prevalent in small, rural communities throughout Region 8 as it is in larger urban areas.”

Mitchell-Brown has been working in conjunction with several organizations across the state to help find victims new homes.

One of her key partners is Kathy Bryan, who is a survivor in her own right.

“I was trafficked for two years when I was a teenager so that was the early 80s,” Bryan said. “That’s before cell phones, before pagers, before the internet.”

But now the internet has made trafficking even easier, as any app with a chatting function can be used against someone.

“We had a child who was trafficked out of Florida and once they got her and found out how that happened, it was through the Bible app.” Bryan said.

Bryan says that a large majority of trafficking isn’t done through kidnapping. It’s done through psychological manipulation, often times from someone the victim knows personally.

“Most of the time it’s someone they know,” Bryan said. “Whether that’s somebody posing as a boyfriend, a family member, a neighbor, a coach...”

A sudden change in the behavior and personality of a child can be a big hint if they’re being groomed or trafficked.

So while pillaging your child’s messages might not be the best idea, definitely ask them more than just how school went that day.

“We all as parents need to make sure we are that safe place, so when a kid is caught in a crazy situation, that they know they can get help.”

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