'We want men to be outraged': Local leaders, group call on men to help combat human trafficking

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- With human trafficking on the rise throughout the U.S. and the world, Milwaukee leaders and human trafficking educators are encouraging men to come forward and sign the Human Trafficking Educators Working with Men and Boys to Stand Against Demand (HEMAD) pledge to stand up against and put an end to human trafficking.

"We want men to be outraged. We want them to be uncomfortable," said Dr. Debbie Lassiter, CEO of Convergence Resource Center and someone who has worked with trafficking victims for 20 years. "We want them to get emotional, and then we want them to stand up and do something."

Every year, roughly 300,000 children are at risk of falling into human trafficking. One in three runaways will be lured into trafficking within 48 hours of leaving home.

"It exploits young children, teenagers, men and women alike," said Arnold Cifax with Convergence Resource Center. "All races, all status; they're victims of human trafficking."

Over 65,000 men worldwide have taken the HEMAD pledge to educate others about the importance of ending human trafficking, including Milwaukee's own Terence Ray.

"I've taken it before and I just wanted to recommit," explained Ray. "I have two daughters, 26 and 27. At any given moment, it could very well be your daughter. I just want to do my part to cut it off at the head."

Dr. Lassiter is hopeful other men will follow that example.

"We've become so comfortable, and that's how it's allowed to hide in plain sight," Dr. Lassiter said. "We really have to get past thinking it's okay. We have to get past thinking it's not happening. It's happening."

Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson has proclaimed this week to be HEMAD Campaign Against Human Trafficking Week in Milwaukee.

Those looking to take the HEMAD pledge and learn more about the dangers of human trafficking can visit the Convergence Resource Center's website here.

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