Non-Profit launches human trafficking initiative

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A Richmond non-profit organization gets a boost in its campaign to stop human trafficking.

It's not just a third-world crisis, the Richmond Justice Initiative estimates 100,000 children in the United States become victims every year.

The children most at-risk are those with family problems, girls yearning for a boyfriend, and runaways.

Around the world, nearly 30 million people become victims of human trafficking each year. Richmond Justice Initiative (RJI) founder, Sara Pomeroi organized the non-profit group in 2009 to help educate young people before it's too late.

"It's really important that people know what it looks like and who to call if they see suspicious activity," said Pomeroi.

Of the millions of trafficking victims, Pomeroi says many are trapped through either drugs, threats, or other measures they can't escape. She says most females in the sex trafficking businesses are lured in by age 12. That's why she wants to reach them as early as she can.

"When looking at that age bracket, that is what really drove me to help these children who are lured into this industry," Pomeroi added.

In order to help with this effort, AT&T donated $25,000 to help RJI teach students about this dangerous issue. The organization will use that money to help launch a nine-week educational program at Hermitage High School in September. Among many other efforts, it will now be able to purchase supplies, hire speakers and produce a documentary. It's just one step forward in the right direction.

"Absolutely, I think we've made some significant progress in the state of Virginia and Richmond as far as raising awareness," Pomeroi noted.

If you notice something suspicious and think it could be human trafficking, you're encouraged to contact the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at: 1-888-373-7888.

For more information on the Richmond Justice Initiative and what it's doing to prevent human trafficking, visit the Richmond Justice Initiative website.

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