IDAHO — As part of a community effort to fight human trafficking in our state, the Community Outreach Behavioral Services (COBS) alongside law enforcement is hosting a trafficking 101 training and panel discussion Tues., Feb. 22 at 6 p.m. at the Cornerstone Christian Community Church in Boise.
"When we widen our circle and we have more people trained to be able to see it, help, and volunteer, then the more our victims and our survivors are helped as well," Paula Barthelmess, President of COBS said.
The event is to educate, provide perspective on trafficking in our state, as well as let the community know how they can get involved in the fight.
"The number one thing is to educate our community, and educate ourselves on this epidemic issue that is happening right here in our state," Barthelmess said. "Human trafficking is very prevalent in both the Treasure Valley, and the entire state, and it is very important that we start to see it so we start to understand how to recognize it, so we can report it and we can get it taken care of."
"We have Idaho's only safe house for victims of sex trafficking and we are actually getting ready to open up our second one," Barthelmess added. "Tuesday night is to also help educate how to get involved, how to become a volunteer, how to help within our organization, in the community, and in different businesses."
An issue that COBS said is becoming more and more common in our community.
"It is happening in hotels, it is happening in so many businesses, both sex, and labor trafficking, so what we want to do is educate the community that it is not just hidden in plain sight," Barthelmess said.
Like what to look for, and how to recognize signs of trafficking.
"If we don’t know what we are looking for, and we don’t know how to identify it then we arent going to know how to take care of it. We are not going to be able to get these victims and survivors the help they need," Barthelmess added. "Prevention is another piece. Like how do we prevent our own kids, our own grandkids, and our own neighbors from being pulled into the life."
A fight no organization can do alone.
"We are all in this together and we all have to fight this together," she said.
For more information on the event, click here.