Waterloo Regional Police Sergeant Jason Bonikowsky talks with Cambridge Rotary Sunset about human trafficking in our region.
On April 23, Cambridge Rotary Sunset invited Waterloo Regional Police Services Sergeant Jason Bonikowsky to talk with us about human trafficking . His remarks drove home the point that sex trafficking doesn't just happen in other places: it is happening right here in Waterloo Region, too. 
The vast majority of victims are females between 14 and 22 years of age - but there are many who are being recruited as young as age 12 or 13. The high-risk groups for trafficking include young women and girls; Indigenous women and girls; youth in care; those with mental health and addictions issues; new immigrants, homeless youth, and LGBTQ+ youth.
While individuals can be forced into trafficking by being abducted or drugged, it is much more common to find traffickers who trick a vulnerable person into sex trafficking through luring, grooming, coercion and manipulation, and ultimately, sexual exploitation. Sergeant Bonikowsky helped us understand how this process might unfold with a vulnerable person.
The Multi-Disciplinary Response to Combat Human Trafficking Committee of Waterloo Region consists of Waterloo Regional Police Services, Victim Services of Waterloo Region, Waterloo Region Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence Treatment Centre, Family and Children's Services of Waterloo Region, Ray of Hope, and a Survivor of human trafficking. Together, they created an excellent website, "Human Trafficking in Waterloo Region." This website provides valuable information on the facts behind human trafficking, ways that people can protect themselves and others, and spread awareness about this issue. Some of the resources that are available include presentations, booklets, and posters that can be distributed through schools, organizations and programs, and in different places around our community. Promoting awareness is crucial.
Through education, awareness, and action, we can help protect the most vulnerable among us safe from human trafficking.