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Local organization educates young people about human trafficking

Freedom 424 teach students how to identify predator, signs of human trafficking

LYNCHBURG, Va. – Have you heard of human trafficking? What's the goal of a sexual predator? These are some of the questions Freedom 424 is asking Lynchburg high school students.

"We want to educate and empower them to know what it looks like, what predators look like, so they can protect themselves and their communities,” Joy Cover, president of Freedom 424, said.

Cover and program director Faith Towles recently started a middle and high school program raising awareness and educating local students.

"We also had an officer come out during that session. Because he talked specifically to Lynchburg even though we had come in and been educating them for a few weeks. When he was able to say and give very specific situations and stings and operations that he was involved in. I think that was very eye-opening to them,” Towles said.

In a classroom setting the students are taught how to identify a predator, the signs of human trafficking and regulating their social media settings.

“Educating them on who do you want seeing your life and who are you giving access to,” Towles said.

Organizers say human trafficking among young people has doubled in the last four years. And though the numbers are relatively low in Lynchburg compared to bigger metropolitan areas, they say, the problem still exists in the Hill City.

"It's happening. Maybe not as rapid as some other cities, but our mindset is why wait until it becomes a huge problem. Why not get ahead of the problem?” Cover said.

If you’d like to learn more about Freedom 424’s program or contact them for a session you can email them at

If you know or think someone is in a human-trafficking situation contact the national human-trafficking hotline at 888-373-7888.