‘It Has to Stop’: TBI campaign to end teen trafficking

Special Reports

NASHVILLE, Tenn., (WKRN) — A child is bought or sold for sex every two minutes in the United States, according to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

It’s a startling figure that many don’t realize. The TBI has been focusing on educating the public on how to protect our most vulnerable with a statewide campaign called “It Has to Stop.”

“This is something that’s happening. It’s happening here. And yes, it has to stop,” emphasized Josh DeVine, Communications Director for TBI.

DeVine created the “It Has to Stop” campaign. He said he was motivated by moments in his career that will affect him forever.

“I’ve seen the victim of these crimes. I’ve seen the hopelessness that they have,” he explained. “On the flip side of that, I’ve seen those who participate in this economy and have no problem walking into hotel rooms to plunk down money to have sex with who they think is a 14, 15, 16-year-old. When you see it the way that I’ve been able to see it, it sits with you.”

The campaign has a website that serves as a resource for anyone in the community because DeVine said to solve a problem, you must understand it.

“We’re trying to combat a lot of those myths around guys in parking lots snatching girls. This is something that happens in big cities and small towns across the state of Tennessee. It happens any time of the day. It involves any kind of individual,” DeVine said.

In some cases, human trafficking can be a parent, who can’t make rent, sending their teenager to the landlord to pay the debt.

These are unfathomable crimes that need more awareness.

That’s why DeVine promotes the message using #ItCouldBeMe. He wants to encourage teens to join the conversation.

And, he’s focused on another group as well, “We need men to start caring about this issue far more than they do.”

Analytics show 75-80% women most commonly visit the “It Has to Stop” Facebook page. DeVine said men, by and large, are the perpetrator of this crime.

“If there wasn’t a demand for women and children, and men and boys, for the purpose of illicit sex – there would not be a supply,” said DeVine.

Today, he challenges you to also join the conversation, “One victim is one victim too many,” DeVine said.

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