A Local Pastor, Monte Ingersoll of The Living Room Church in Kennewick wants you to pay attention the increased incidences of Human Trafficking going on in Tri-Cities this weekend!

Let's be aware. Our community hosts thousands of visitors this weekend for the Tri-City Water Follies. Sadly, the weekend is also a peak time for human trafficking as local traffickers sell their victims for sex and many more are brought into our community to service increased demand.

Over 230 girls are bought for services on any given night in the Tri-Cities but that grows over 5-6 times this weekend.

Now is the time for our community to come together and fight trafficking in the Tri-Cities.

Here’s what you can do:
1. Help raise awareness. Share this message with friends and family.
2. Report possible trafficking or get help for trafficked persons—call the local 24-hour hotline, 1-888-846-7273.
What is it? Sex trafficking is the prostituting of a child (under 18) or the use of force, fraud, or coercion to compel an adult into commercial sex work.

Where does it happen in the Tri-Cities?
• People seek sex for pay by connecting with victims online, at events, and at public venues (convenience stores, parking lots…).
• Sex-for-pay happens in hotels/motels, RVs, trucks, parks, and homes/apartments.
Who are the victims?
• 56% of victims sold for sex are minors—15% are boys.
• 1 in 3 runaways are picked up by a trafficker within 48 hours
• Average age of entry: 11-12 for boys; 12-13 for girls (average life span after entry is 7-10 years).
• Minors are sold an average of 10-15 times a day—often 6 days a week; toddlers and pre-schoolers cost twice as much as other minors.
• Victims are recruited from all socio-economic levels and ethnic groups.
• Most victims are local. Local gangs use sex trafficking of local minors as a source of money. Local parents sell their children for sex to earn money or because they are under threat or coercion by another adult.
What are signs of a trafficked adult?
• Appears to be under the control of someone who never leaves the person alone. Has limited or no independence. May respond to questions with well-practiced, “canned” answers (as coached by the trafficker). Avoids eye contact.
• Has signs of physical abuse or neglect, such as scars, bruises, burns, unusual bald patches, tattoos that raise suspicion (for example, “Property of—” or UPC symbol).
• The person’s story about what she or he is doing doesn’t make sense.
• The person appears depressed, frightened, anxious, or otherwise distressed. Seems fearful or paranoid. Avoids eye contact.

What are the red flags that indicate a child may be exploited?
• Chronic truant / runaway / homeless youth (yet many still live at home with unsuspecting parents)
• Excess cash
• Hotel room keys
• Multiple cell phones
• Signs of branding (tattoos, jewelry)
• Having expensive items with no known source of income (especially hair, manicures, cell phone, clothes)
• Lying about age / false identification
• Dramatic personality change such as evasive behavior especially around a “new boyfriend,” talk about being “taken care of,” disengagement from school, sports, community
• Provocative clothing, multiple condoms or related-products
• A change in play habits, or pretend games that become more adult for very young children

To report possible trafficking or obtain services for trafficked persons, call the local 24-hour hotline 1-888-846-7273.