Trafficking awareness Advocates and officials will discuss the continuing issue of sex trafficking in Brazoria County and how to prevent it. When: 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday Where: Lake Jackson Civic Center, 333 Highway 332 E. Cost: Free

Too o ften, people don’t care about an issue until it touches their own lives.

We shared a story on social media last week about a Pearland man who was found guilty for trafficking Manvel High School students. It was one of our most popular stories of the week and elicited comments of concern and anger.

Someone asked why we don’t report more about human trafficking or what can be done to identify and prevent it.

The truth is, we do.

About 203 people reacted to the story on Facebook about the man being found guilty of trafficking underage girls for sex and 128 people had shared it as of Tuesday evening.

Our story about the upcoming free event Thursday organized by Texas Gulf Coast Refuge for Women to discuss ways of preventing sex trafficking received only 37 reactions and 57 shares as of Tuesday.

The total number of people reached by that event’s story, which factors in a combination of likes, shares and comments, was 7,748. That reach is below average for a story we share to social media.

Many readers treat the sentencing like a wrecked car on the side of the highway, everyone stopping to get a peek at the drama. But when it comes down to ways to prevent human trafficking, too few people put in the effort.

The signs of trafficking aren’t always obvious, and it takes everyday residents paying attention to combat its pervasiveness.

“I think that when there’s anything going on around us, we need to be aware because we could be very naive when things like this,” said Hilary Sherrer, the communications manager for Houston-based trafficking nonprofit The Landing. Sherrer will be at the event sharing information.

Speakers from Sen. Joan Huffman’s office and Brazosport ISD also will attend the event.

It can be easy in our daily lives to never notice what happens around us, and perhaps that’s why stories like the one involving the Pearland man blow up like they do. Trafficking doesn’t happen in the open, so when it is reported, it can come as a shock.

In rural Brazoria County, it’s as if residents feel it couldn’t be happening in their neighborhood. But the truth is far from that.

Events hosted by organizations including the Brazoria County United Front Coalition in the past have highlighted subtle signs that trafficking might be occurring under residents’ noses, and we have already run several stories this year about trafficking occurring in southern Brazoria County. One story in February involved six local adults being charged in a trafficking ring.

This isn’t gossip. It’s happening.

Yet when groups host town halls to talk to residents about it, most of the seats remain empty.

Anyone who believes human trafficking — including our daughters being lured into modern-day sex slavery — isn’t going on in our communities is kidding themselves, and by ignoring it, they might only be making it worse.

Those shares on Facebook aren’t doing any good after the fact.

Do the community a favor by taking time Thursday to listen to what organizers and experts have to say. It might be an hour or two of your time, but it could save one young person’s future.

This editorial was written by Alec Woolsey, assistant managing editor of The Facts.

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