In this day and age, there is always a new viral video on YouTube. However, on Feb. 9, that video turned out to be called ‘The Kidnapping Children Experiment.’
In the video, a child actor and another actor simulated a kidnapping in progress. Passers-by then had to decide what to do.
Recognizing a crime in process can be hard. Some crimes are easy to spot but some, like human trafficking, may be more difficult.
“People just think it doesn’t happen here, it doesn’t happen in the United States, but it certainly does, especially in agriculture,” Dr. Lisa Carter, assistant professor of criminology, said.
Last year Carter, along with the now-retired Dr. Sharon Masters, co-chaired Florida Southern College’s Conference on Human Trafficking.
The Florida Coalition Against Human Trafficking was present, as was the Coalition of Imokalee Workers. Colleen Abel, an FSC student who graduated last September, sat with the CIW and did some translating.
“I would say that it [human trafficking] is overlooked a lot,” Abel said. “I feel people don’t think it exists because they don’t see it.”
The CIW’s website states that, among other things, it uses the Fair Food Program to encourage stores to buy food that has been harvested by workers who are treated well and are paid a fair wage. In case of accidents one can get OVI and DUI attorney in Delaware to help with the legalities.
Although kidnapping and human trafficking are two different crimes, the video focused on how people react to a situation that does not look right.
“I’d like to say that if I were to come into a situation, I would do the right thing, but you never really know until you’re in that situation,” Larissa Town, president of the Women’s Advocacy Club, said.
There are some signs that Giselle Rodriguez, state outreach coordinator for the Florida Coalition Against Human Trafficking, said to look out for if you suspect someone is a victim of human trafficking, such as if they can make eye contact or if they can they carry a conversation.
“Your gut instinct usually tells you a lot,” Town said. “If something seems out of the normal, obviously physical signs, physical abuse, emotional abuse such as they’ve kind of retreated, and they’re not really talking, they seem scared.”
Town also said that any sudden shifts in mood might be a red flag. If something does not seem right, Rodriguez advises for people to take a look at their surroundings.
At some points in the video, some of the passers-by aggressively defended the child, one woman even pepper-spraying the actor playing the kidnapper.
“I certainly wouldn’t suggest that,” Carter said. “I would suggest getting in contact with authorities, people that have training, people that understand what a crisis is and how to handle a crisis and an emergency situation.”
Rodriguez said that people who try to “rescue” others can often put themselves and human trafficking victims in dangerous situations, and that the best thing to do is call 911.
Carter said that these types of videos can get people thinking about what they would do during a situation. Town agrees, but believes that research is still the best way to get educated.
“I think it [the video] spreads awareness, but I don’t think it spreads awareness in the most obvious way, so what people would most likely do, or what situation would most likely occur,” Town said. “I don’t know if it spreads awareness of that.”
Reacting to human trafficking may be difficult though, especially when there are many misconceptions about the issue.
Rodriguez said that some common misconceptions include that the majority of victims are women and children, it does not happen to U.S. citizens, that labor trafficking is just people not getting paid, human trafficking is primarily for the sex instead of the labor industry and that Tampa is one of the worst places for child sex trafficking.
“It’s not that we’re a hotbed. It’s just that we’ve been fighting it [human trafficking] for longer than the rest of the U.S,” Rodriguez said.
According to Rodriguez, some of the statistics on Florida are misleading.
For some though, action, rather than awareness, may be the issue. The CIW has a branch for students, and Abel became involved right before beginning college. The CIW is also hosting a march on March 14 and 15 starting at Lakeland’s Southgate Publix.
“I feel like students have a very powerful voice but they don’t utilize it because they don’t know how,” Abel said.