Texas First Lady Cecilia Abbott relaunched a human trafficking awareness campaign at the Governor’s Mansion on Thursday afternoon.
The “Can You See Me?” campaign will aim to educate the public on how to spot and report the signs of human trafficking.
As part of the campaign, more than 300 billboards across more than 70 Texas cities will depict the most common forms of modern slavery. The billboards will carry a message urging anyone who suspects human trafficking activity to call the Polaris National Human Trafficking Hotline and the National Center of Missing and Exploited Children.
“Texas is a national leader in the fight against human trafficking, and the relaunch of this successful campaign will help us continue to raise awareness and call people to action against this heinous crime,” said First Lady Abbott, per a news release from the governor’s office.
The campaign previously existed from 2019-2022, organized by A21 (a nonprofit fighting human trafficking) and the Outdoor Advertising Association of Texas (OAAT).
The previous version of the campaign resulted in a more than 30% increase in calls across Texas to the National Human Trafficking Hotline. The successful campaign earned the Human Trafficking Impact of the Year in Transportation Award in 2020 from the U.S. Department of Transportation.
“I am grateful for the continued collaboration with A21 and the Outdoor Advertising Association of Texas as we work together to put an end to human trafficking,” Abbott added.
The First Lady was joined at the relaunch by Secretary of State Jane Nelson, Senator Joan Huffman, Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw, and other state and local anti-human trafficking leaders.
“It is the tips and the reports that come into the hotlines and to law enforcement across the state that are the key to saving lives and putting a stop to human traffickers,” said Director McCraw. “This campaign helps empower people to speak up and take action to make Texas a safer place for all of us.”
Human trafficking is a growing issue in the state. The Texas Senate has appropriated $57.5 million to prevent and combat human trafficking in its base budget.
“Texas is a second-leading state in the U.S. for sex trafficking and human trafficking. And you know why? Because we have international highways — we have the Houston port and DFW International Airport. It’s very hard to control because it’s lucrative,” Pamela Gaiter, a professor of sociology at Collin College, told Fox 29.
“What they do is they get people that look like them, find them in a bad situation — ‘I can help you. I know somebody can help you,’” Gaiter explained. “After a while, they get them with drugs and alcohol and they’re ashamed to go back to their family for what they’ve done.”
“You see something, say something,” Gaiter continued. “It’s better to take precaution than to just close your eyes because you never know what that nosy neighbor, a nosy person whose life they can save.”
Children at Risk, a nonprofit that conducts research and gives guidance on policy recommendations, is advocating for bills in the Texas legislature that would increase penalties for traffickers and train rideshare drivers to spot signs of human trafficking and report them to the police.
“Being able to recognize some of these red flags and then get that child help before they have been harmed further is so, so, so important,” Caroline Roberts, a senior attorney with the nonprofit, told KVUE. “We know that children and adults who have been trafficked need services. They need long-term support and services, but we want to get them that help as soon as possible and make sure that they are not victimized further.”
Roberts said one sign people should look for is a child with multiple cell phones or multiple hotel keys.
Shame she’s not doing it because she truly cares. She’s only doing it for herself and her criminal nazi supporting husband
You’re an idiot.