Human trafficking is likely more of a public health concern than most realize.

According to the Tennessee Department of Health, it is the modern-day slavery, the sale of another person for sex, and affects individuals, families and communities all across Tennessee.

While this crime is largely hidden, Tennessee leads the nation in its approach to addressing human trafficking.

So the Department of Health urges all Tennesseans to learn about risk factors, red flags and resources for human trafficking in order to be part of the solution, and possibly help save someone’s life.

“The Tennessee Department of Health recognizes human trafficking is a public health concern and we’re working with community organizations and local health departments to provide education and resources to help fight this issue in our state,” TDH Assistant Commissioner for Family Health and Wellness Morgan McDonald said.

“We’re also asking Tennesseans to wear blue in observance of National Human Trafficking Awareness Day this Friday.”

There are a number of red flags of human trafficking. These include the person:

• Is not free to leave, or come and go as he/she wishes.

• Is unpaid, paid very little or paid only through tips for his/her work.

• Works excessively long and/or unusual hours.

• Is not allowed breaks or suffers under unusual restrictions at work.

• Is fearful, anxious, depressed, submissive, tense, nervous or paranoid.

• Has few or no personal possessions and/or identification documents.

• Lacks control of money of his/her own.

• Is not allowed or able to speak for him/herself.

• Has numerous inconsistencies in his/her stories.

• May show signs of physical and/or sexual abuse, physical restraint, confinement or torture.

Reports of human trafficking continue to grow.

There are 94 children each month who are trafficked right here in Tennessee.

If you know someone who needs help, contact the Tennessee Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-855-558-6484 or text “BeFree” to 233722.

For more information on human trafficking, please visit www.acf.hhs.gov/trafficking.

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