The Carroll County Health Department partnered with Coordinated School Health and other stakeholders within our community to shed light on human trafficking during the week of July 25-July 31, 2021. Human trafficking, also known as modern day slavery, is quickly becoming a major public health concern. Today, an estimated 40.3 million people are being trafficked worldwide, including 180 cases reported to the National Human Trafficking Hotline in Tennessee last year.
“Addressing human trafficking is a priority in Tennessee,” said Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey, MD, MBA, FAAP. “It is important we raise awareness of human trafficking through initiatives such as this because victims can experience significant trauma that has lasting impacts on them and their families.”
According to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, human trafficking is a demand-driven crime that involves exploiting a person for labor, services, or commercial sex acts, particularly targeting women and children. Human Trafficking is also one of the fastest growing criminal industries in the country, with cases reported in all 50 states.
The Red Sand Project is a participatory art installment designed to shed light on human trafficking. Due to COVID-19, participants in events in their neighborhoods, office groups and respective spaces around the state practiced social distancing and other precautions while pouring red sand in the cracks sidewalks in areas with high foot traffic, to symbolize human trafficking victims that “fall between the cracks.”
There were many red sand pours across Carroll County during the week of July 25 through July 31 as well as before and after to help increase the awareness for this important cause. Pictures were posted on social media using the hashtags #RedSandProjectTN and #ItHasToStop.
We were excited to have representatives throughout Carroll County participate this year including the McKenzie Special School District teachers, Central Middle School Softball team, Huntingdon High School Soccer team, West Carroll Jr/Sr High Cheerleaders, Clarksburg Teen Health Council, McKenzie High School Soccer Team, Carroll County Health Council, Baptist Memorial Hospital-Carroll County, Carroll County Health Department, Carl Perkins Child Abuse Prevention Center and Bethel University.
“Human trafficking must be stopped,” said Tennessee Department of Health Family Health and Wellness Division Deputy Medical Director Denise Werner, MD. “By increasing awareness of this hidden crime that can happen in our own communities Tennesseans can make a difference in the lives of victims of human trafficking.”
Carroll County Health Department is one of more than 90 organizations that partnered with the Tennessee Department of Health on this effort this year, each hosting events in their communities. The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development is also participated, with each of the 16 Tennessee Welcome Centers featuring information on the project and how to get involved in spreading awareness.
If you know someone who needs help to escape trafficking, contact the Tennessee Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-855-558-6484 or text “BeFree” to 233722.
If you suspect you have come into contact with a victim of human trafficking, you may call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-855-558-6484. Hotline staff members will identify resources in your community. For more information on human trafficking and the hotline, visit https://humantraffickinghotline.org/.
Learn more about the Red Sand Project at https://redsandproject.org/.