Paloma Pimentel | Contributing Writer
In commemoration of National Human Trafficking prevention month, the Office of Social Justice and Inclusion at FIU collaborated with the Women’s Center to host a panel discussing modern slavery and human trafficking.
The Jan. 24 discussion was led by Jessica Barriel, a law enforcement detective with the Miami Dade Police who is on the trafficking task force of South Florida, Maureen Kenny, a psychology professor at FIU that focuses on the commercial sexual exploitation of children in the U.S. and Samantha Garrote, an FIU psychology student and spokesperson.
Attendees were informed that Miami-Dade county is ranked No. 1 for the most cases of sex trafficking in the state and No. 3 in the nation.
“The average age of victim entry is 13 years, so we need to be talking about this to all ages appropriately,” said Kenny.
The panelists focused on unraveling three main topics of concern: the misconceptions of sex trafficking in the media, the risk factors that can lead to sexual exploitation and trafficking, and how to spot signs of sex trafficking in our society.
Towards the end of the discussion, a student felt compelled to share, “the sad truth is that people are being trafficked right now; that is why it is important for our community to try and put our best foot forward and work with one another to try to find those individuals and create awareness.”
FIU students are advised to call the National Human Trafficking Hotline (1-888-373-7888) to report any trafficking concerns or simply reach out for help.