An awareness assembly to talk about internet safety and human trafficking was held for high school and upper
middle school students at St. Joseph School Friday.
Gretchen Smeltzer, the founder and director of Into the Light, is a faith-based, nonprofit organization that advocates for survivors of human trafficking in Arkansas, spoke with the group about the issue.
Human trafficking is modern-day slavery involving the use of force, fraud or coercion to exploit people for immoral purposes and the victims of this world-wide criminal enterprise are frequently young teens, according to officials from St. Joseph School.
"It doesn't matter which town or city we live in," Smeltzer said. "There's a vulnerable population no matter we live."
She said human trafficking can occur in a small town of a few hundred or a city of a million or more and noted those most likely to get caught in human trafficking are at-risk children who've had contact with social service agencies, the juvenile court system, those who've been sexually abused, runaways or those who've been kicked out of their homes for their sexual orientation.