HOLLAND, Mich. (WLNS) — Attorney General Dana Nessel, elected officials and community leaders all worked to educate the public and business owners on ways they can spot human trafficking on Friday.

Officials say there is the potential for human trafficking to increase as the summer tourism season is approaching. 

Those victimized by traffickers face sexual, physical and emotional abuse – all for the purpose of control, submission and exploitation. That is why it is on all of us to look for the warning signs and better understand instances in which trafficking may be more prevalent. This includes sex trafficking, forced labor, and debt bondage. I appreciate our community partners for their work in combatting trafficking and I know together we can save and support those who feel helpless. I encourage everyone to take some time to review the resources available to better identify these instances of abuse. While we know statistics underrepresent the full picture, we can all arm ourselves with awareness that has the potential to save lives.” 

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel

Friday’s roundtable conversation highlighted how Michigan gets busy during the summertime, especially as visitors come to enjoy the Great Lakes State.

According to Ottawa County Sheriff Steve Kempker, human traffickers are now using new techniques to track down potential victims.

“The Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office stands with our State and Federal law enforcement partners to investigate and prosecute those responsible for human trafficking,” Kempker said. “Victims of crime are always our number one priority.” 

The sheriff’s office says that education and awareness are a few ways we can work towards eliminating human trafficking.

The Michigan Abolitionist Project (MAP) also was a part of the awareness event. The project collaborates with the MHTC, other governmental task forces, service providers and anti-trafficking advocates to boost the response to human trafficking in the mitten state.

“MAP is dedicated to helping prevent and end human trafficking through community engagement, education, and awareness,” MAP Holland Community Group Leader Ashleigh O’Donnell said. “We all have a part to play, it takes our whole community learning, collaborating, and taking action.” 

If you are a victim of human trafficking or know someone you think may need help, you can contact the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 888-373-7888, or text 233733.