BALDWIN COUNTY, Ala. (WPMI) — A local non-profit organization is building a group home and counseling center in South Alabama to help child victims of human trafficking.
Law enforcement estimates 5,000 victims of human trafficking are moved through Alabama each month, with highways like I-10 and I-65 serving as major corridors.
Tragically, experts say more than half of victims in the state are minors.
"When these children are rescued, some of them are criminalized. They're treated as prostitutes. So what we're wanting to do is have them a safe place to go," said Amanda Luker, Development Director with Camille Place.
Luker said Camille Place, a girls group home, is soon to be under construction in a non-disclosed area in South Alabama.
The shelter is the work of a non-profit of the same name and made possible by donations.
"We'll offer all the basic social services. Their individual care like health, medical, dental, and all that stuff. We're gonna offer art and music therapy. We'll offer animal therapy, where they ride horses, as well as all types of activities," Luker said.
Luker said Camille Place will be the only known location to help girls that are 11-years-old or younger.
Jamie Carter, a local parent who works with the Girl Scouts, said that's great news.
"It's heartbreaking that we need shelters for children being trafficked. But knowing that those are out there and we'll get one of them in our area brings a little bit of hope," said Carter.
According to experts, victims don't have to be at risk youth. Often, traffickers target children through private social media apps.
"You have to know what your kids are doing. You have to know who they're talking to online," Carter said.
According to Luker, law enforcement has seen triple the amount of human trafficking cases in the last month.
Luker said Camille Place is expected to open by the end of the year or the beginning of 2020.