Human trafficking has become sensationalized in many films, TV shows and social media. People have seen the stories on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Students all over the University of Louisiana at Lafayette have been worried about one issue: human trafficking.
“It makes me really uncomfortable to do things alone at night. I definitely make sure I’m with friends, or I make sure people know where I’m at,” said Jasmine Crockett.
Crockett, a senior at UL Lafayette, said she first came across the human trafficking stories through twitter. Crockett believes the recent stories to be true due to the reoccurring conversations many have seen across social media.
UL Lafayette justice professor Michelle Jenais has a different perspective.
“We get a lot of myths about what happens when people go missing. A lot of disparity in coverage, and in some cases, you see more than others, ” said Jenais.
Jenais said one of the most myths populating social media is suspicious activity around Acadiana and on campus. One myth that Jenais says is real is the runaway population.
“Runaways are especially vulnerable because they are usually coming from abuse or dysfunction in the home. They are running from abuse. It creates a dynamic of people taking advantage of them,” said Jenais.
According to the chart created by national human trafficking hotline, there were 108 reports of human trafficking in Louisiana this year alone. Based on her research Jenais has not come across any documented cases where the abducted victim was from a middle class home and forced into labor or human trafficking.
“We are all more likely to be murdered by someone we know and love. Our risk of victimization from sexual assault are highest from someone you know, so, generally speaking, we are not at risk for that sort of victimization,” said Jenais.
Jenais wants students to know that they are not at risk and to not be afraid. If you want to know more about the myths of human trafficking, visit Acadiana Hearts of Hope.