FARMVILLE — As youth increasingly look to the internet for social engagement, human traffickers have taken to the platform to recruit potential victims.

But it is not only the internet where parents should be wary. Traffickers have complex and manipulative tactics to coerce or fraudulently compel youth into exploitative situations.

ENC Stop Human Trafficking Now will be hosting Protection and Prevention: A Forum to Discuss Human Trafficking on Jan. 15 at 6 p.m. at Farmville Middle School to bring the complex issue to light.

The community is invited to Protection and Prevention: A Forum to Discuss Human Trafficking to hear speakers Pam Strickland, founder of ENC Stop Human Trafficking; Bonnie Jean Kuras of TEDI Bear Child Advocacy Center; and Chief Chauncey Congleton of the Pitt County Sheriff’s Office to discuss how to protect children from traffickers, internet safety, what human trafficking is, the red flags of a possible victim and how to report suspicions.

“Human trafficking can be prevented,” said Melinda Sampson, ENC Stop Human Trafficking Now community outreach coordinator.

“Empowering parents and the community as whole to truly understand what human trafficking is; how traffickers recruit and groom victims; and how to spot the warning signs in a possible victim is paramount in protecting youth from falling prey to exploitative predators. It is our responsibility as a community to keep our children safe.”

Sampson said the average age of a person being first sex trafficked is between 11 and 14 years old.

“Because victimization typically begins at an early age, we need to be cognizant of the dangers that are posed to youth. It is important that young people know what healthy boundaries are; what dating violence looks like and how to be media literate. Young people are ill equipped to understand these issues and how these issues are contributing factors to human trafficking if community members, parents and caregivers don’t understand,” Sampson said.

Protection and Prevention: Forum to Discuss Human Trafficking Prevention is the first event in a series of events ENC Stop Human Trafficking Now will be hosting in January as a part of Human Trafficking Awareness Month.

Human Trafficking 101 will be held at 6 p.m. on Jan. 24 at Sheppard Memorial Library and on Jan. 29, at 6 p.m. at Neuse Regional Library in Kinston.

“Be the One” documentary will be screened at Pitt Community College on Jan. 31 at 6 p.m. in Goess Student Center.

For more information about Protection and Prevention: Forum to Discuss Human Trafficking Prevention or any subsequent events ENC Stop Human Trafficking Now will be hosting, email Sampson at melinda@encstophumantrafficking.org.