WV launches statewide initiative to help stop human trafficking

Published: Sep. 19, 2023 at 6:06 PM EDT
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BRIDGEPORT, W.Va (WDTV) - The West Virginia Fusion Center in partnership with Governor Jim Justice has launched a statewide initiative to help put an end to human trafficking. The “YOU CAN” initiative will bring awareness and educate the community about human trafficking, along with providing resources for anyone in need.

Patty Saunders, the Executive Director of Hero’s Haven Child Advocacy Center in Clarksburg is content that something is being put into place to spread the word.

“If we can stop trafficking that would be wonderful,” Saunders said. “If we were out of a job that would be wonderful.”

Hero’s Haven creates a safe space for children who suffer from various forms of abuse. Their job is to investigate these cases to fight for justice and help children heal from their experiences.

Saunders shared her observations when dealing with different cases and it is a problem that a lot of people often rule out.

“A lot of them deal with human trafficking and they may not be listed as human trafficking because human trafficking could be labor trafficking,” Saunders said. “It also can be making a profit for sexual favors and sometimes it is parents selling their kids for drugs. It’s something local as many people think it’s someone that’s traveling through the states and sometimes it’s not that, sometimes it’s something local right in our community.”

Trauma-focused therapy, clothing, and food are some resources that the Hero’s Haven provides throughout the duration of each child case and even after.

Saving one victim at a time, this initiative is expected to help appropriate authorities intervene, investigate, and take action.

For more information on how to submit a tip or donate to the Hero’s Haven Child Advocacy Center click here.