In general, it is more enjoyable to look at the fun side of life. We don’t like to have things that depress our mood shoved in our faces. The problem with that outlook is that we turn a blind eye to people we could help and problems we could solve.

That is why it is important for us as a society to talk about the unseemly things that happens in the shadows. Things none of us like to talk about.

To that end, January is Sex Trafficking Awareness Month. The nonprofit Georgia Human Trafficking Initiative is holding a free event entitled Prisoners of Darkness from 5:30 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday at St. Simons Community Church.

The event will include a panel discussion to help educate everyone about human trafficking with representatives from the federal, state and local levels on the panel. Doors open at 5 p.m. and registration can be completed online at georgiatrafficking.org/raise- awareness.

We encourage everyone who has the time to attend and learn about what they can do to help fight back against this insidious forces. There will also be some local nonprofits on hand with information tables set up at the event. Supporting organizations like Faithful Love, House of Hope and Grace House helps keep people who would be vulnerable to human traffickers safe and off the streets.

If you don’t think this is a local issue, the stats tell a different story. The state is ranked seventh among U.S. states when it comes to the highest amounts of human trafficking. That statistic comes from the Polaris Project, a nonprofit dedicated to eradicating human trafficking and modern slavery.

According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, there were 1,124 cases of sex trafficking between 2015 and 2018 with around 859 of those cases involving female victims. And if you think that this is just an issue where women are the victims, about 265 of the cases involved male victims.

Human trafficking is one of the foulest crimes we can imagine. It is a vile practice that hurts some of the most vulnerable people in our society. It is a scourge that we cannot and should not ignore any longer.

We are grateful to the groups that will be at this event to help educate the public on a subject that no one likes to think about. The only way to eradicate this criminal action is to shine a light on it and root out all of the roaches involved. The first step to doing that is for all of us to learn more about the problem.

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