NEW PHILADELPHIA (WJER) - January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month, and a local organization is using the opportunity to let Tuscarawas county know it’s happening right here. 

MacKrea Larue and Robin Bowdish of Tusc Against Trafficking have presentations scheduled throughout January, including one open to the public on Thursday at 6:30 pm at the county library’s main branch. Larue says their goal is to educate residents about the signs of human trafficking.

“It’s definitely happening here. It’s one thing for you to try to believe your county’s safe, and it is a safe county. It’s very safe. It’s a great community. But it’s also important we have to recognize that for some residents it isn’t safe out, and we have to protect them and try to be aware of what’s going on, even when it makes us uncomfortable,” she says. 

Larue says most traffickers groom their victims over time usually starting online.

“Traffickers will take months if not years to groom their victims before they do anything to hurt that child, and they’ll even take the time to groom the child’s family to get the family to trust them and then slowly convince the child to leave them,” she explains.

Larue says anyone is welcome to attend the presentation at the library. They also have presentations scheduled with the Rotary Club and adult students at Buckeye Career Center. Larue says organizations can contact Tusc Against Trafficking to schedule a presentation for their group.