JACKSON, Miss – Secretary of State Michael Watson hosted the inaugural Mississippi Businesses Against Trafficking (MBAT) Summit Tuesday afternoon on the University of Southern Mississippi (USM) campus. Over 100 business, non-profit, and state agency representatives gathered in Hattiesburg to hear from state and national leaders in human trafficking awareness efforts.
"Human Trafficking education is the first step in understanding how we can help those affected by this heinous crime. Our goal is to provide the knowledge, tools, and resources to Mississippi business owners, so they can share with their organizations and communities. We are extremely grateful to our partners who helped facilitate this great event," said Secretary Michael Watson.
USM's Center for Human Trafficking Research and Training (CHRT), the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation (MBI), and the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) all played an integral role in the planning and implementation of the inaugural event.
The Summit's programming included a Human Trafficking 101 presentation by CHRT's co-directors Dr. Tamara Hurst and Dr. Kimberly Hogan and a panel discussion featuring business leaders who currently utilize human trafficking awareness practices. A question and answer session with the audience concluded the event.
"The (U.S.) Department of Justice recently stated it is impossible for any single agency to effectively combat human trafficking. When we collaborate and work together in our businesses and communities, we increase our area of influence. Through education, training, and identification, we can prevent human trafficking in our state," said Ashlee Lucas, Statewide Human Trafficking Coordinator with the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation.
MBAT is a statewide initiative to raise awareness and empower Mississippi businesses to combat human trafficking. It is open to any business, non-profit organization, or association in the State of Mississippi that is interested in promoting human trafficking awareness both internally and externally.
The MBAT website provides more information on how to get involved as well as educational resources and materials to help better understand the issues surrounding human trafficking and how to recognize it in the workplace.
To speak with someone about how to get involved with MBAT, contact our External Affairs Division at ExternalAffairs@sos.ms.gov or 601-359-4454.