Technology is helping people stay connected during the pandemic, but it is also giving a greater opportunity for traffickers to lure and traffick victims online.
"Internet usage has increased as high as 38%. From what I'm hearing from survivors is that there is so much luring over the internet," says Joy Smith.
On top of starting the Joy Smith Foundation, Mrs. Smith is recognized as one of Canada's leading anti-human trafficking activists.
The founder of the foundation says that the luring of children and teens online has increased a great deal since the pandemic started.
"We have begun the National Human Trafficking Education Centre. It'll be officially launched next September but we do it every day anyway all across Canada."
When they meet with a survivor, the staff now has to connect using a zoom call to stay within the guidelines of social distancing.
"There was a mom who thought her child was being groomed over the internet, and she called me," says Smith. "The daughter was very resentful of her mom even suggesting that the guy she hooked up with was a trafficker. With our intervention program, we were able to talk with them both. The daughter saw the light and broke off that relationship."
Since that time, the mother and daughter have gained a strong relationship once more. That is just a part of the work they do to help prevent and end human trafficking.
"For victims who have been lured and are trafficked, we help them to understand what happened to them. There's no blame or shame there, but rather concrete information about PTSD and trauma-related feelings they have," she says.
These supports are available to trafficked people and survivors all across Canada. Through zoom and the use of technology, the Joy Smith Foundation has been able to reach more people.
For anyone who wants to learn more about human trafficking, especially it's effect on the Christian community here in Canada, Mrs. Smith's website has resources, including a Bible Study on this particular topic.