MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — This month is human trafficking awareness month, and the Mobile County District Attorney’s office is trying to make it easier for victims to get the help they need with a new initiative.
It’s called don’t know don’t click, an education and reporting initiative about online predators and human trafficking.
A victim of an online predator or of human trafficking can use the tool to report their case to the District Attorney’s office.
“We want to provide victims a way, similar to bully blocker, a way to report that they are victims so we can then investigate,” said Keith Blackwood, the Chief Assistant District Attorney for the Mobile County DA’s office.
Once a victim reports their crime, it goes to the youth family services department who will start an investigation and they will determine whether or not law enforcement should get involved.
Mobile County District Attorney Ashley Rich said human trafficking happens in our own community.
“Most people think, human trafficking doesn’t happen in Mobile County. Human trafficking doesn’t happen where I live. It happens everywhere and right here in Mobile County,” said Rich.
The program is also aimed at education and prevention. The new initiative is being discusses in public and private schools in Mobile County.
“We’ve got to educate our young people, if you don’t know someone that’s trying to befriend you on social media, you don’t need to befriend them,” said Rich.
Rich said the program was launched after she met a young girl who was a victim of an online predator.
“I met a young girl named Breighanna Vigor, she was Ms. Mobile Bay two years ago, and this was her platform. She was so passionate about it because she was a victim and she wanted to help educate young people.” That’s why we partnered together and we made this video that describes what happened to her. We show this video in our schools, and we educate young people that if you don’t know someone, don’t click,” said Rich.
The DA’s office said the prevalence of social media in children’s lives can make them susceptible to predators, and in the most extreme cases, it can lead to things like exploitation and human trafficking. The FBI reports that more than 50% of victims of online sexual exploitation are between the ages of 12 and 15.
The DA’s office said it’s difficult to prosecute these types of cases but hope they are this tool will help in that process.
“We’re coming after you and we’re going to do everything we can to try and convince victims to go forward and prosecute, you know, help us prosecute these cases because children are being hurt. Young people are being hurt. Women are being hurt,” said Rich.
The DA’s office said that even though this system is fairly new, people are using it and reporting crime.