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C. Oregon local responder urges public to join in Human Trafficking Awareness Month

(Update: Adding comments from program manager)

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month and a local organization is asking for the community's help. Local responder At:project and partners are using this opportunity to remind the Central Oregon community that exploitation and human trafficking happen in our community, and there is local help.

"Trafficking does happen in our community -- it is happening in Central Oregon," said Bre Barrett, program manager for the At:project, said Tuesday.

Through trainings, social media and panel discussions with state partners on current key topics, at:project is inviting the Central Oregon community to learn the realities, dispel myths, gain the tools to identify potential victims and know how to respond.

"I think if people are aware that it's happening here, then obviously that's the first step to just acknowledge that it happens here," Barrett said. "But then also to realize who are the vulnerable people -- who are you around that might be susceptible to be groomed to be trafficked."

During the last fiscal year, the at:project served 68 clients who were either at high risk, suspected or confirmed victims or survivors of human trafficking.

But that number only includes those who got help.

"i imagine it's a lot higher than the amount that we're serving," Barett told NewsChannel 21.

Barrett says Central Oregon has several factors that contribute to trafficking.

The housing crisis, traffic from Highway 97 and challenges in child care all leave a vulnerable population.

"I hope that during January, especially, we can reach our community, build awareness," Barrett said. "Because without our community involvement, it makes our job impossible."

"So the more we have involvement from the community, the better that we are going to be able to actually serve survivors of trafficking."

Understanding human trafficking and knowing how to find help will not only help keep loved ones safe, but also empower people to be effective advocates for the safety of all children and families in our community, the organization said.

As the local responder in a national effort, at:project is funded by the Federal Office on Trafficking in Persons. The at:project responds locally to calls to the National Human Trafficking Hotline and coordinates the Deschutes County Commercial Sexually Exploited Children (CSEC) Response Team, under the Oregon Department of Justice’s Trafficking Response and Intervention Program.

The CSEC Response Team is the group charged with responding to human trafficking in the area, and includes representatives from local, state, and federal law enforcement, the District Attorney’s office, several Deschutes County agencies, and KIDS Center.

A program of J Bar J Youth Services, at:project is the sole provider of comprehensive case management for human trafficking survivors in Central Oregon.

How can the public participate in Human Trafficking Awareness Month?

LOCAL Virtual Training.

Join local experts for a free 1-hour virtual community training on Human Trafficking presented by the Deschutes County CSEC Response Team and at:project. This new training will expand your knowledge of sex trafficking, indicators, myths vs. reality, and how you can help respond. 

January 19th – 1:00pm – 2:00 pm

January 20th – 5:30pm – 6:30pm

Learn more and register:

STATEWIDE Panel Discussions.

Learn more about the current efforts in Oregon to address human trafficking. The Trafficking Response & Intervention Program that advises the at:project’s efforts in the Deschutes County CSEC Response Team will be providing virtual panel discussions throughout the month of January. Discussions are open to the public. 

Equity in the Sex Industry -- Thursday, Jan. 13 | 12:00p-1:00p
Equity, decriminalization, and the sex industry

Labor Trafficking -- Thursday, Jan. 20 | 12:00p-1:00p
What it is and what’s being done about it

Safe Harbor -- Wednesday, Jan. 26 | 12:00p-1:00p
Implications for victims and survivors, and the system

Buyers, Traffickers, & Brothel Owners -- Thursday, Jan. 27 | 12:00p-1:00p
How they affect our local communities

For more information and registration:

JOIN us.

During this month of raising awareness, we ask the community to show their support: Attend a training, join the statewide panel discussions, follow at:project on social media, and donate to support the basic needs of a survivor of sex and or labor trafficking.

SPREAD the word.

Human trafficking can happen in any community. If you have been trafficked or suspect that someone you know has been trafficked there is local help. For safe and confidential services, contact the at:project (541) 647-0658 or online at to speak with an advocate. Resources and support are also available nationwide through the National Human Trafficking Hotline 1 (888) 373-7888.

Commercial sexual exploitation is a form of human trafficking, and commercial sexual exploitation (trafficking) of a minor is child abuse. Suspicion of trafficking triggers a mandatory child abuse report for mandatory reporters. The Oregon Child Abuse Hotline is (855) 503-7233. Resources and support are available nationwide through the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1 (888) 373-7888.

Get Help. Report a Tip. Seek Safety. Find Resources.

National Human Trafficking Hotline:  CALL: (888) 373-7888. TEXT:233733 (BeFree)

Author Profile Photo

Carly Keenan

Carly Keenan is a multimedia journalist and producer for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Carly here.



  1. This is what we should ALL be focusing on. Oregon is #2 in the nation for Sex Trafficking. If you didn’t know that, you are the problem. This issue should be forefront in the media and should be a discussion point in every city, county in the state. But instead it is swept under the rug and not talked about. Time to make our leaders put this issue front and center. We need to tell them enough of Covid, what are you doing to protect our kids and young adults?

    1. I absolutely agree, sagebrush. By the numbers, those under 18 have just as good a chance of being trapped into sex trafficking as they do be hospitalized with Covid-19 even if it is not due to Covid-19. So why is the MSM constantly telling us how dangerous Covid-19 is to children and very little about the danger that sex trafficking is to children?

      I believe is it all about the bottom line. Big pharma’s bottom line.

      1. I have never been directed to cover something or how to cover it because of ‘big pharma.’ And no place I work is how that works, or have I heard of it elsewhere.
        Fairness, accuracy balance (to the extent possible if folks on both sides will talk) – those are our hallmarks. And networks, too.

            1. Your profession is being played by big pharma money. That money dictates which stories get the coverage. Big pharma uses its power to get things pushed through that a normal company could never get approved. Just because you personally do not take money from big pharma, does not mean that you are being played even if you completely believe you are telling the truth. Big pharma is not going to waste their money on trying to influence a small station such as KTVZ. That influence money is spent on CNN, Fox, NBC, ABC, CBS, and our political leaders in Washington D.C. Then you simply repeat what the “big guys” in the media state and take it as the absolute truth. When you defend this without really researching the facts as to how drugs are approved and looking at how the FDA often ignores their own panel of experts when approving drugs, then I am sorry to say that you are indeed part of the problem. Big money buys drug approvals. Let’s see you get approved to cover “Institutional Corruption at the FDA” as noted by Dr. Donald Light of Harvard.


              1. You must mean all those drug ads. It’s a complex relationship, media and advertisers, but I’m sure it also has been said about big tech, big auto, etc. Big industry always has been accused of controlling media.
                Or do you mean other “under the table” money from big pharma to media? That I haven’t seen/read, but I guess I’m just focusing on local stuff like always.

              2. Bendskier – Despite the fact most all of what you’re espousing is misinformed opinion, would you care to take a guess as to which political party has created and vehemently defended the ability of pharmaceutical corporations to wield the power they have?

            2. Oh Barney…I have said many times before. The Media are no longer journalists. If KTVZ and any other media outlet were covering the truth, you would be working researching and not just taking CNN stories and floating them in place of actual journalists. I know that money for the Media, especially newspapers, is slim pickins and most good reputable papers have gone out of business. The Media game is all about funding. Funders want a narrative to be pushed, otherwise they wouldn’t fund it. Exactly why newspapers and even KTVZ choose candidates to push during election season. Some even go as far as to endorse a candidate. If Media were journalists, they would never endorse anyone and cover all candidates equally. But alas, $ clouds judgements and morals.

              1. I don’t write national news. I … we write local news. We take a CNN and AP wire feeds for state and national news. It’s always been that way. And their stories are, for the most part, accurate etc.
                Folks who expect us to spend our time researching national issues (beyond localizing them as time allows) don’t appear to understand how we’ve always done our work.
                We don’t endorse candidates – newspapers do, and the claim we do our advertisers’ bidding also is age-old but pretty easy to disprove if it would make any difference in the critics’ minds.
                When we hold debates, all get equal time. We try to do the same with profiles and other elements of coverage. Of course.
                Most journalists still do their jobs as they always have. The audience has shifted into blame and hate and only believing the stuff on their side of the fence. And that’s a damn shame.

      1. Talk to our local child protective non-profits. They can show you the true data. We are indeed #2. Statistics from the government are 2 years behind. Oregon surpassed all the other states two years ago. I got my info direct from a non-profit agency director.

  2. Whether a reporter is or is not directed to cover stories, Sex Trafficking is a major problem that has been more in the forefront of the news lately, but I daresay, only because of specific issues that have brought it to the forefront. It should be a major story with every media source. I was told maybe 3 years ago that sex trafficking was a bigger dollar earner than drugs. I’m not sure that is still true with the advent of Fentanyl crossing the border in such huge numbers, but both are serious issues and the media should be on the side of shouting out those issues, constantly. No matter the politics of the individual or media source doing the reporting.

  3. I would like to report Joe Biden for allowing the open Southern Border. There has never been anyone more supportive of human smuggling in the history of the US presidency than Joe Biden. Drugs, humans, and who knows what else all lie right on Joe Biden’s lap.

  4. ICE is doing yeoman’s work in this area and has been for years now.

    Every Friday they offer updates like this one –

    HUMAN SMUGGLING/TRAFFICKING | HSI shows support for victims of human trafficking, educate community during awareness campaign
    HSI special agents across the country will come together Jan. 11, to show solidarity for victims of human trafficking, while pushing to educate the community on the various signs of the various forms of the crime. In recognition of this important topic, the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Blue Campaign hosts Wear Blue Day.

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