Human trafficking has been defined to the United States Department of Homeland Security as modern-day slavery involving the “use of force, fraud or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act; or commercial sex act involving a person under 18 years of age.” Locally, the organization “Into the Light” is working to provide refuge and restoration for minor survivors of sexual exploitation and to bring awareness and education to the issue of human sex trafficking.
Into the Light founding director Gretchen Smeltzer was a recent guest of the Talk of the Town on KTLO-FM. Smeltzer says anyone could be a potential victim, but traffickers mainly focus on a person’s vulnerabilities.
Into the Light looks to educate communities, churches, first responders and law enforcement on understanding and identifying sex trafficking victims. They also work closely with authorities to provide information in an effort to assist in locating predators. Once victims have been identified, they work as advocates for survivors by assisting the juvenile justice system in finding resources necessary to place them on the healing path.
Human trafficking has been occurring nearly since the beginning of time, but Smeltzer says in this age of technology and social media, it can be even more prevalent.
Smeltzer adds there are over 20 different types of trafficking. Human sex trafficking is the most common form, but online sexual exploitation also fits the definition.
Those who would like more information on how to assist Into the Light with its mission can find it on Facebook and Instagram. Donations will also be accepted online at intothelightus.org. Anyone wanting to receive updates or newsletter by email can send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org. Into the Light has its North Central Arkansas office in Mountain Home and its Northwest Arkansas office in Springdale.
This month, Our Community Cares, sponsored by Danny Porter of Century 21 LeMac Realty, Farmers and Merchants Bank, Pizza and KTLO, Classic Hits and The Boot, recognizes Into the Light and its mission of human sex trafficking awareness. Learn more at ktlo.com/ourcommunitycares.
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