KALISPELL — January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month and MTN News spoke with The Lifeguard Group to see how the community banding together can stop daughters and sons from being exploited.
“I think people believe this misconception that human trafficking doesn't happen here because it's Montana, but it is indeed happening and it's growing,” said The Lifeguard Group Executive Director Lowell Hochhalter.
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Hochhalter notes that with January being Human Trafficking Awareness Month people should be aware of what trafficking looks like and how it can be detrimental to rescuing those being trafficked.
“it's just so important for people to recognize that that intuitive feeling is usually right,” Hochhalter observed.
The Lifeguard Group’s website notes that every hour 34 people are entered into the world of exploitation and being mindful of your community is essential.
“The place we need to start is watching our own neighborhoods being aware of being community watching out for your neighbor's kids your own kids your kids’ friends,” Hochhalter explained.
The Montana Department of Justice states there are nearly 58,000 people being trafficked in the United States alone.
“You won't know until you know. And you have to put yourself out there a little bit to at least realize that this is happening it's taking place,” Hochhalter said.
“And the numbers don't lie you know statistics on just statistics but behind each of those numbers is a face is a name and somebody's daughter somebody's son,” Hochhalter added.
The Lifeguard Group launched their own hotline for Montanans to report suspicious behavior and for those being exploited to get help.
You can call 833-406-STOP to report human trafficking or receive help. To learn more you can visit the Lifeguard Group's website here.