WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) – Human trafficking and smuggling are unfortunately things that happen every day, and numbers are skyrocketing in Texas as it’s also a big issue in our own community.

In 2016, there were over 300,000 victims of human trafficking.

“Every child needs to have a trusted adult in their life, that they can go to for things if something does happen to a child like sextortion, they are the victim. Sometimes they do it to themselves but the predator can also do that to them, make them feel like it’s their fault,” Executive Director of Southern Grit Advocacy Vicky Payne said.

Payne said it’s important to know the dangers of smuggling into the United States.

“Someone who is smuggled into the country could easily become a victim of trafficking. Either labor trafficking or sex trafficking or both. And then the victim of labor or sex trafficking, they could actually easily be smuggled out of the country,” Payne said.

The majority of victims are pre-teens and senior citizens as predators see them as easy to manipulate and follow orders. Payne said it just takes one victim to speak up and make a difference.

“Stand up and say, ‘hey, this happened to me and I’m willing to help law enforcement with it.’ And just by them being brave and courageous to stand up and say yeah this happened, no telling how many other minors that they’re going to help,” Payne said.

Even that is not enough. It takes the whole community to tackle these issues which is why Southern Grit Advocacy is always looking for volunteers.

“It takes all of us working together. Not one law enforcement agency can stop it, not one non-profit can stop it, not one individual, but everybody coming together, working together, and learning about it can stop it. And, prevention education with minors can prevent it from happening before they get exploited,” Payne said.

Trying to change and solve the issues, through education and empowerment.

If you or a person you know is a victim of sextortion, call: 1-888-373-7888.

The Southern Grit Advocacy will be hosting a trauma-informed approach to understanding the needs of human sex trafficking survivors on Friday, April 28 from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at MSU Dillard Building. Room #189.

For more information on how to become a volunteer for SGA, click here.