LUBBOCK, Texas — In 2021, Voice of Hope helped 58 victims of sex trafficking in Lubbock, the organization told KLBK News on Tuesday.
“We have a lot of the same issues that big cities have, and we have an issue with sex trafficking,” said Community Education Director for Voice of Hope Leslie Timmons. “Traffickers look for vulnerable people on social media.”
Some of those vulnerabilities include: “somebody that has low self-esteem, somebody that doesn’t have a lot of family support, kids that are in group homes, kids that have neglectful supervision– that aren’t really been watched after.”
Timmons said the most common age group being targeted is children between the ages of 12 and 14.
“If they’re talking on social media a lot, if they’re dropping out of activities, and not interacting with friends or family, that would be some red flags to look for,” she explained. “Just talk to your kids. Keep that line of communication open and know what they’re doing online.”
And behind closed doors, she added.
Voice of Hope said educating kids on the dangers of social media is necessary, and the organization hopes to spread more awareness later this month, as January is Human Trafficking Prevention Month.
“We will be participating in the Blue Sand Project that’s led by the Attorney General’s Office of Texas and the idea is: sometimes these victims can slip through the cracks of the criminal justice system [and] society in general,” Timmons said.
On January 26, the community will spread blue sand (representing the color for human trafficking awareness) in sidewalk cracks around town.
“We ask people to take pictures and videos and post it on social media to just bring awareness and support for victims of human trafficking, and for us specifically, sex trafficking,” Timmons said.
The Blue Sand Project will be formally announced on January 11 by United Supermarkets and the sand will be distributed on sidewalks on January 26. Those interested in participating will be able to pick up the sand, free of charge, at any United Express gas stations leading up to January 26.
You can follow KLBK News on social media or check back on EverythingLubbock.com for updates about the event.
Resources in the community that may be helpful to survivors of human trafficking include:
OneVoiceHome– Connects trafficking survivors, mostly girls and young adults, with resources
Voice of Hope– Crisis center that helps survivors of sex trafficking and rape get connected with resources
Open Door– Offers housing for survivors of sex trafficking including their families, as well as other therapeutic services
Women’s Protective Services– can help victims trying to escape abuse create safety plans, file for protective orders; offers emergency shelter, advice, advocacy and much more
Lubbock Victim Assistance Services– can help victims create safety plans, file for protective orders; provides advocacy, advice, information and much more
Legal Aid of Northwest Texas– can help obtain protective orders
Legal Aid Society– can offer advice to domestic violence and stalking victims and assist with protective orders
District Attorney’s Office (Lubbock)- can help with criminal prosecution and protective orders
Lubbock Police Department– call if in immediate danger; assists with legal and criminal matters
Lubbock Sheriff’s Office– call if in immediate danger; assists with legal and criminal matters