5 things to know about human trafficking—tips for parents, resources + more


human trafficking, jlb

In 2017, the Junior League of Birmingham (JLB) created an anti-human trafficking initiative to increase awareness in Birmingham through training, public awareness campaigns and community events. Through the initiative, they’ve reached thousands across our state. Keep reading to learn more about human trafficking and resources to protect you and your loved ones.

1. Why is human trafficking awareness important? 

BHM Procolmation 2023 5 things to know about human trafficking—tips for parents, resources + more
Members of The Junior League of Birmingham’s Anti-Human Trafficking Committee and Mayor Randall Woodfin with the signed proclamation declaring January as Human Trafficking Awareness Month in the City of Birmingham. (

Per the Department of Homeland Security’s Blue Campaign, human trafficking is the use of force, fraud, or coercion to exploit someone for labor or commercial sex. Any minor exploited for commercial sex is a victim of human trafficking.

It is so important for both adults and children to be aware of human trafficking in their communities—both physically and online. Here’s a look at just how important it is:

  • According to the 2022 Bark Annual Report, 62.4% of tweens and 82.2% of teens encountered nudity or content of a sexual nature online. 
  • According to research from Thorn, among kids who have shared their own nudes, 43% admitted they had shared them with someone they did not know in real life.
  • According to research from Thorn, 4 in 5 minors interact with unfamiliar adults online.
  • According to The International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children (ICMEC), it takes only 8 minutes for a predator to form a bond with a child.

Being aware of the threat that is human trafficking equips individuals to detect cases, builds public support for action and ultimately helps to prevent trafficking from happening at all.

2. The JLB is committed to raising awareness for human trafficking

Wear Blue Day 5 things to know about human trafficking—tips for parents, resources + more
The Anti-Trafficking Committee on Wear Blue Day. (Junior League of Birmingham)

The JLB hosts many events and engagements to educate the community on online safety and human trafficking.

Most recently, they hosted a mother/daughter tea for girls ages 10 and up and a supportive female adult. The event featured mother/daughter speakers Breighanna and Cricket Vigor, who started non-profit Stopping Traffick to educate young girls after Breighanna was approached and nearly trafficked by an online predator when she was just 12 years old. Learn more about their story here.

P.S. The JLB offers free community training speaking engagements for organizations, employers, hotels/venues, civic groups, etc., where they teach attendees about what to look out for regarding human trafficking whether in person or online, how to approach potential scenarios and how to help those being trafficked.

3. Safety tips for parents (and to keep in mind for yourself)

Examples of Instagram messages to avoid. (Junior League of Birmingham)

  • Be aware of the types of apps your kids are on / have on their phones
    • Do they have direct message capabilities? If so, predators and strangers have access to contact them. 
    • Vault apps (password protected apps used to hide photos, videos, text messages and/or apps; usually hidden to look like something else (ex. Calculator app)).
  • Update / manage privacy settings
    • On an iPhone, go to Settings > Privacy to see which apps you have allowed to access certain information such as location services and camera.
  • Set boundaries and expectations upfront
    • Time limits (apps are intended to be addictive)
    • What social media is/isn’t appropriate for their age/maturity level
    • Don’t talk to or accept requests from anyone they don’t know (go through your kids “friends” lists on apps and ask them how they know each person—if they can’t answer, remove the “friend”)
  • Have the awkward conversations
    • Talk about the dangers and potential consequences of sexting and explicit photos (the internet is forever, once it is sent you can’t get it back).
  • Be an open door / have a plan
    • Let your kids know they can come to you if something isn’t right and that you will help them / be on their side (predators often threaten—take away that power).

4. The JLB signage is used all over the state

2020 Revised Signage 5 things to know about human trafficking—tips for parents, resources + more
(Junior League of Birmingham)

In 2019, the JLB created the signage above that has since been used by other leagues and organizations across the state. You may have seen it in ALDOT rest stops, in the Birmingham, Huntsville and Montgomery airports or in businesses, gas stations and truck stops all over Alabama.

The signage is intended to help victims self-identify, as sometimes they don’t know they’re being trafficked. These travel-heavy locations are so important for this, because human trafficking victims are often moved across state lines.

Fact: Birmingham is a hub for trafficking in the Southeast earning I-20 the nickname “Sex Trafficking Superhighway”.

True story:

The JLB was the Anti-Human Trafficking Education Sponsor of The World Games 2022, providing training to TWG staff and division lead volunteers. One woman, originally from Oklahoma, was brought to Birmingham a few weeks before TWG 2022 and saw one of these signs that helped her self-identify as a victim of human trafficking. She reported to a doctor who had been trained on human trafficking as a World Games volunteer and was able to use her training to get the women free from her trafficker and to a healing facility in California. 

5. Additional resources

Walk for Freedom 5 things to know about human trafficking—tips for parents, resources + more
Walk to Freedom. (Junior League of Birmingham)

Visit the JLB’s website to learn more, book them to speak at your event or hang signage in your public restroom.

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Callie Puryear
Callie Puryear
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