Wear Blue This January To Raise Awareness of Human Trafficking

Wear Blue This January To Raise Awareness of Human Trafficking

It's a huge public safety issue, and almost no one knows how prevalent it really is

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During mid-December, serial killer Devin Howell was charged with the prison assault of Robert King Jr., who is awaiting sentencing for his role in a Danbury, Conn. prostitution ring.

King was charged with felony counts of trafficking in persons, witness tampering and promoting prostitution and plead guilty in August to conspiracy to commit human trafficking. King's prostitution operation provided disabled and addicted young men to customers like Bruce Bemer and William Trefzger for sex.

Human trafficking is a real problem in Connecticut, however, it's viewed as a far-away problem that happens in large cities, or more impoverished states. It's not something that could ever happen in the small, quaint Nutmeg State, which has been ranked one of the wealthiest states in the country, according to the U.S. Census.

But it does happen. Even in the neighborhoods residents think are safe.

In August this year, social media users shared one woman's recount of a potential human trafficker in Blue Back Square and West Hartford center area, however, those counts were unsubstantiated. Additionally, other reports of a possible kidnapping were deemed by police to be a misunderstanding.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security defines human trafficking as a form of modern-day slavery involving the use of force, fraud or coercion to obtain labor or a commercial sex act, and generates almost as much as drug trafficking.

According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, there have been 30 human trafficking cases reported this year, 22 of which concerned sex trafficking, five concerned labor, and three calls concerned both. Of those calls, 22 were reporting a trafficking tip, and six were requests for service referrals.

A 2011 Department of Justice report found that the majority of human trafficking cases concerned the prostitution of adults or minors, and females were more likely to be victims of sex trafficking.

The State of Connecticut has taken steps in the past to address this serious public safety concern, and has made great strides to combat it since 2012.

Most recently in 2017, the Connecticut legislature updated its human trafficking laws to increase the penalty for the crime from a class B felony to a class A felony, which increased the fine from $15,000 to $20,000, and prison time from one to 20 years to 10 to 25 years. It also created a new crime- "commercial sexual abuse of a minor," which made abuse of a minor between the ages of 15 and 17 a class B felony, and abuse of a minor under the age of 15 a class A felony.

The General Assembly also passed a law in 2017 that required the Chief State's Attorney's Office and local police chiefs to report efforts to reduce human trafficking to the Trafficking in Persons Council.

Statewide, there are also many resources for victim-survivors, and for those who may be aware of human trafficking occurring. In Connecticut, individuals can report human trafficking to the Human Anti-trafficking Response Team Careline at 1-800-842-2288.

Nationwide, there is the National Trafficking Hotline at 1-800-373-7888, or text 233733.

On January 11, take a stand against human trafficking by wearing blue in support of the Department of Homeland Security's Blue Campaign, an effort to stop human trafficking.

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5 Perks Of Having A Long-Distance Best Friend

The best kind of long-distance relationship.
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Sometimes, people get annoyed when girls refer to multiple people as their "best friend," but they don't understand. We have different types of best friends. There's the going out together best friend, the see each other everyday best friend and the constant, low maintenance best friend.

While I'm lucky enough to have two out of the three at the same school as me, my "low maintenance" best friend goes to college six hours from Baton Rouge.

This type of friend is special because no matter how long you go without talking or seeing each other, you're always insanely close. Even though I miss her daily, having a long-distance best friend has its perks. Here are just a few of them...

1. Getting to see each other is a special event.

Sometimes when you see someone all the time, you take that person and their friendship for granted. When you don't get to see one of your favorite people very often, the times when you're together are truly appreciated.

2. You always have someone to give unbiased advice.

This person knows you best, but they probably don't know the people you're telling them about, so they can give you better advice than anyone else.

3. You always have someone to text and FaceTime.

While there may be hundreds of miles between you, they're also just a phone call away. You know they'll always be there for you even when they can't physically be there.

4. You can plan fun trips to visit each other.

When you can visit each other, you get to meet the people you've heard so much about and experience all the places they love. You get to have your own college experience and, sometimes, theirs, too.

5. You know they will always be a part of your life.

If you can survive going to school in different states, you've both proven that your friendship will last forever. You both care enough to make time for the other in the midst of exams, social events, and homework.

The long-distance best friend is a forever friend. While I wish I could see mine more, I wouldn't trade her for anything.

Cover Image Credit: Just For Laughs-Chicago

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12 Things You Need To Go Thank Your RA For

They are basically your mom or dad away from home.

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This year is my fifth year of going to college and I've had three different RA's as well as multiple friends that became RA's through our journey. Being an RA sounds like a super cool job that has a lot of perks but it is HARD WORK and your RA deserves all the thanks in the world.

1. They welcome you to your university.

The first day of college, just like the first day of high school is scary, especially because its usually completely new territory you aren't very familiar with. Your RA can the person who shows you around campus and can give you answers to any questions you have about your new home.

2. They hold events and try to make them fun.

Some people don't know this but most RA's have to have their programs and events have an educational component. Even though that can be hard depending on the event, RA's will try to make it fun and add their own ideas so that programs can be more fun for you, their residents!

3. They can get you into your room when you lock yourself out.

RA's do much more behind the scenes than you think. When you lock your keys in your room or lose them, your RA is the one who usually has to call the locksmith to replace your lock or give you a replacement key. Kind of makes them a super hero.

4. They will be a shoulder to cry on.

It's hard moving to a new place and getting adjusted to a new environment. Your RA will be the person who checks up on you when you look a little down and is always asking how your day is. They will become someone you can go to for support when you need something.

5. They will make bulletin boards/flyers.

The job of an RA is so many different things. One of those things is making bulletin boards that are educational or have to do with something going on around campus. Your RA will also put up flyers and make other programs and events on campus known to you and fellow residents.

6. They will be there in an emergency.

Usually, every dorm has an RA on duty for the evening, in case of emergencies. This could be getting ice for someone whose fallen, dealing with a loud room, or even calling an ambulance or public safety if needed.

7. They will sort your mail.

At some universities like mine, RA's double as desk assistants working the front desk of your building, sorting mail and packages. This mean they are working not only one, but two jobs.

8. They will help mediate roommate issues.

When I was a freshman, I got into a little spiff with a girl I lived down the hall from and my RA mediated it and helped us put our differences aside and be friends. They will just do their best to keep the peace.

9. They make door decorations.

Most RA's make personalized door decs for their residents and update them every so often. This is a cute touch and a way to feel welcome and know the people living around you.

10. They will eat with you when you have no one to go with.

Shout out to my first year RA who threw house dinners and every Sunday night at 6 we would all go to the cafeteria together and eat. This not only helped me get over my anxiety of being in a new place with new people but also helped me make sure I was taking care of myself.

11. They won't get you in trouble if they don't have to.

No RA in the history of RA's wants to bust their residents, they really care about them and want them to do well. This comes down to the smallest things, like the extra noise violation warning, or not writing you up for having curtains. :)

12. They become your friend.

When you meet someone who's job is to help people in a new environment and care about people they don't know, then that is a person you want to be friends with. If you become close with your RA, stay that way, they make great friends.

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