PHIL IN THE BLANK: Human trafficking

The story “Learn about human-trafficking risks at workshop” on page 9 stemmed from a posting on Facebook that seemed to me easily dismissable.
A second-hand tale of a man photographing a local 11- or 12-year-old girl in her yard.
“First time he was seen he drove off. He then came back another day in a different car. The mom saw him. Police were called. They are unable to identify the man, but the scary part is the police went on a special online site and there was a picture of their daughter on there and the bidding was taking place for this girl. She was listed for sale. This is a TRUE story! It happened in Clarkston. We think it’s just on Lifetime movies or in big cities, but it’s right here!”
The story seemed shaky. Why would someone go through the trouble of driving around taking pictures of girls in their front yards? Why wouldn’t they just go on Instagram, Snapchat, or all the other social media sites where kids post pictures of themselves for all to see?
And yes, a special online site listing girls for sale seems straight out of the movies, with the people behind it soon to receive a phone call from Liam Neeson to talk about his special set of skills.
But actually, there would be nothing special about a website like this. A Google search for “online human trafficking auction” came up with about 7,970,000 results, many of which are news reports but many others of a type I’m not going to click on.
I contacted the local sheriff’s office substation and they didn’t find anything to this specific incident, but the issue is real enough.
Sheriff Michael Bouchard went to Washington D.C. earlier this month to help President Trump sign a new federal human-trafficking bill, Oakland County created a special task force on it, and Clarkston Coalition For Youth and Clarkston Area Youth Assistance are hosting a Stop Human Trafficking Workshop this Thursday, Jan. 31, from 7-8 p.m. at the Clarkston Community School Administration Building Board Room, 6389 Clarkston Road.
Speakers from the Michigan State Police and Michigan Abolitionist Project will present information on the issue and how to help. Call 248-320-4550 for more information.


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