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Birmingham groups partner for free event on human trafficking risks

8 Days movie poster

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) –

Tuesday night, two Birmingham organizations are teaming up to help parents, teens, and preteens learn about the shadowy world of human trafficking.

GirlSpring, Inc., is partnering with The Wellhouse for a free screening of the film “8 Days,” at The Clubhouse on Highland.

The movie is endorsed by the Department of Homeland Security and based on true events; 16-year-old Amber sneaks out to a party, is kidnapped, and forced into sex trafficking.

“Human trafficking is [an issue] that we’ve recently become a lot more passionate about,” GirlSpring’s Executive Director, Kristen Greenwood, said. “It’s a huge problem in Alabama and it’s also something that you think maybe it’s certain neighborhoods but it’s not. It could happen to anybody.”

The Wellhouse, a nonprofit organization focused on rescuing victims of human trafficking, advocates that parents and children over the age of 12 attend the screening and panel discussion Tuesday. Every year, the lives of more than 300,000 American children are impacted by the sex industry.

“People think this is a problem overseas,” points out Susan Vawter, a board member for both The Wellhouse and GirlSpring, Inc. “Most people are shocked to hear this is happening here locally. Oxmoor Road and the I-20 corridor is one of the most trafficked interstates in the United States.”

“We could show the film every day and people are still not going to understand it is happening right around them,” adds Greenwood.

The advocates point out that ignoring sex trafficking won’t make it go away, so knowing the risk factors and warning signs is the best way to protect the young people you care about.

“Don’t automatically assume they come from a broken home. They may have been lonely at school and someone took advantage of that vulnerability,” says Vawter, encouraging young viewers to reach out to the kids who seem lonely and to be proactive in including classmates.

Tuesday’s screening of “8 Days” by After Eden Pictures begins at 6:00 p.m. The event is open to the public, but you are encouraged to RSVP at http://www.girlspring.com/in-our-own-backyard-event/.

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