BEND, OR -- A local anti-human trafficking group offers a free training this week, as part of National Human Trafficking Awareness Month. Amanda Gow, with Guardian Group, says the free community training is open to anyone, "Parents and teachers; it’s even appropriate for high school-aged students, business owners, community members; basically, anybody who is interested in finding out more about what human trafficking looks like here in Central Oregon, and what we can do – as the average person – to ensure that it doesn’t continue to happen in Central Oregon."
She says it's important for everyone to be prepared and capable of spotting the signs of trafficking, "You see youth that are disconnected, a young person who has a significantly older boyfriend, or these different kinds of things we see happening here; what to say to somebody if you think they might be being trafficked, like where to send them or where to get more help and support."
Gow tells KBND News Friday's event and recent first responder trainings with Bend Fire and the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office are part of Guardian Group's Sealed City Initiative aimed at closing the region to traffickers, "Any person can be at risk for being lured in to or taken into this industry. It is something that can affect you, your neighbors, down to our most vulnerable populations of runaway and homeless youth or young people who don’t have those caring, supportive caregivers or role models in their lives."
Friday’s free training starts at 6:30 p.m. at Journey Church in Bend; pre-registration is requested and dinner is included. Gow says if you can’t make it to the January 11th event, Guardian Group will offer a free webinar series, starting January 16. Click HERE for more information and to sign up for the organization's January events.