Forum addresses human trafficking

BAR HARBOR — Uniting communities to battle human trafficking was the prime topic of a forum at the Atlantic Oceanside Hotel and Conference Center Monday. Dan Batsie, of Atlantic Partners EMS, led the program. Amanda Blake, Vicki Eaton, and Nina Milliken offered their expert advice. More than 60 medical professionals and students, local police, and concerned citizens were in attendance.

Batsie explained that more humans are enslaved today than in 1860 due to human trafficking. An estimated 2.4 million people are victims in the U.S., and 100,000 to 300,000 children are involved in the sex trade.

Those engaged in human trafficking took in about $32 billion last year. The slave trade business made more than Google, Nike and Starbucks combined. With a decreasing economic outlook and ready supply of victims, this lucrative business continues to expand.

Attendees learned about human traffickers’ means of trapping a victim, and the six stages of human trafficking.

Bar Harbor Police Chief James Willis explained the difficulties of identifying victims. Signs of a human trafficking victim are lack of possessions, dramatic change in behavior, recent arrival to the U.S. or isolation. Medical professionals should be aware of signs of physical abuse, branding or tattooing, or drug addiction. Amanda Blake, an ER nurse and sexual assault forensic examiner at St. Joseph Hospital in Bangor, added that inseparable couples and controlling behavior in a doctor’s office are also warning signs.

Batsie said that doctors and nurses should take these warning signs seriously, as they might be the victim’s only health provider. Law enforcement should look for padlocks on the outside of doors, high security measures, unsafe conditions or children working in a business location as possible signs for human trafficking.

All of the speakers emphasized the spread of awareness as a solution for this issue. Amanda Blake explained, “Being aware of what happens around us is a first step in taking a stand against it.” Batsie encouraged the spread of information through the National Human Trafficking Hotline, Maine Domestic Violence Statewide hotline and Maine Sexual Assault Crisis and Support Hotline. He also spoke of the “Blue Campaign,” which works with the federal department of Homeland Security, law enforcement, government and private organizations to spread awareness about human trafficking.

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Fenceviewer Staff

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