FLORENCE, S.C. (WBTW) — More than 100 people participated in the Pee Dee’s first “freedom walk” for World Day Against Human Trafficking Saturday morning.
Attendees carried signs and marched around Magnolia Mall.
Glenda Skipper, founder and CEO of One Child at a Time, said the nonprofit conducted a survey of more than 2,000 Florence 1 students after educating them on human trafficking. That survey found nearly one-third had been contacted by a predator online.
“Our kids are suffering in silence,” she said. “Through technology, you have predators relentlessly seeking to build some kind of relationship to start the grooming process.”
Skipper said in the four years since she started the nonprofit, she has educated more than 17,000 people on human trafficking. She presented awards to organizations that had taken her training then taken action, including the Florence County Sheriff’s Office and the MUSC Florence ER team.
“We gave them guidelines and assessment forms,” Skipper said. “They followed them and had their first rescue four days later. I was so proud of them.”
She also presented an award to a Florence family that encountered a woman in distress while on a trip to the Lowcountry.
She said that family stepped in and took the woman away from her trafficker.
“They called me up and said they had a victim,” Skipper said. “They drove the young lady straight to me and we helped her find shelter.”
She said she was glad to see so many people supporting the cause and urges the public to be on the lookout for the signs of human trafficking and step in.
Some of the signs of a human trafficking victim include a lack of personal identification, cuts and bruises, confusion about where they have been or are going and erratic body language.
“We just want to keep the community growing in their awareness of this epidemic,” Skipper said.