VAN WERT – The YWCA of Van Wert County Victim Services Department is offering a free learning event for Van Wert and surrounding communities. Human Trafficking 101 will take place Tuesday at First United Church Basement from 6:30-7:30 p.m.

Jamie Evans, YWCA Victim Services Director, will lead the event and give participants beginner knowledge about human trafficking in our area and how to be an ally in ending this crime.

“Ohio is one of the leading states in the nation in human trafficking crimes,” said Evans. “Due to the major highways which cross through Ohio, people can easily be trafficked from one location to another, however, trafficking doesn’t just happen in big cities; it can happen in our small town neighborhoods.”

Ohio ranks only behind states such as California, Texas, and Florida in Human Trafficking Crimes. According to PolarisProject.org, Ohio had 898 trafficking victims who were identified in 2018.

“This was only the number of victims, identified - there are many more who don’t understand they are being trafficked who have yet to be saved,” Evans stated.

Polaris operates the U.S. National Human Trafficking Hotline and leads the way in connecting more than 50,000 victims and survivors to help and support. By using data and the expertise of survivors, Polaris’ primary focus is to bring awareness to and end human trafficking.

During the Human Trafficking 101 event, Evans will define the different types of trafficking and scratch the surface on who the most vulnerable victims are. How traffickers target their victims and the usual tactics used to lure victims into the life will also be discussed. For the final thirty minutes, Evans will field questions from the audience.

“Our goal is to dispel the myths surrounding trafficking and give everyone some real truth and insight to what this might look like in our area,” Evans stated.

A dessert smorgasbord will be served during the seminar and it is recommended that participants be age 18 and older to participate due to the candor of the discussion. This event may be canceled or moved to an outside venue depending on current COVID-19 protocols by the Ohio State Department of Health. Individuals who register will be notified regarding any changes in venue or if event is canceled.

Interested individuals may register for the free event through Eventbrite (Human Trafficking 101) or contact Julie Schaufelberger at the YWCA (julies@ywcavanwertcounty.org). The link to register on Eventbrite may be found on the YWCA website under events (www.ywcavanwertcounty.org) or on the YWCA Facebook Page.

The YWCA is a not-for-profit organization supported by United Way and the Van Wert County Foundation.