Many of us like to think and believe that slavery is over. But for so many girls and young women that is not the case. Human trafficking is an ongoing issue in this country and sadly, the demand for the girls and women forced into this sex trade increases during the Super Bowl.
With that in mind, one flight attendant spoke about the signs of a human trafficking victim based on the time she found a young woman who was acting strangely on her flight.
In 2011, Sheila Frederick, 49, told WTSP, she was working for Alaska Airlines, flying from Seattle to San Francisco when she noticed a young girl, who appeared to be about 14-15-years-old. She was sitting in the window seat next to a well-dressed older man.
Frederick said the young girl’s hair was greasy and it looked like she “had been through pure hell.” Frederick suspected that something was amiss because of their attire. “He was well dressed, that’s what kind of got me because why is he well dressed and she is looking dissolved and out of sorts.”
Frederick knew that she had to do something. She was able to tell the girl to go to the bathroom. The flight attendant put a note on the mirror for the girl. When Frederick went in the bathroom behind her, she found that the girl wrote on the note saying she needed help.
Frederick notified the pilot who alerted police who were there to meet the plane when it landed. Frederick’s quick thinking helped save this young lady from an uncertain but likely dangerous and soul-crushing fate.
Frederick wondered if this young girl was the only victim of human trafficking she had stumbled upon in her career.
“I’ve been a flight attendant for ten years and it’s like I am going all the way back to when I was in training and I was like I could have seen these young girls and young boys and didn’t even know.”
These days, flight attendants are being trained to spot signs of human trafficking like someone who appears to be controlled, someone who is bruised or battered or someone who won’t answer questions or make eye contact.
Frederick said, “If you see something, say something.”
According to WTSP, the additional training seems to be making a difference. The Florida Department of Children and Families reports that Florida received 1,892 reports of human trafficking, a 54 percent increase from last year.
The teen Frederick saved is doing well these days. Frederick has spoken to her a few times over the years.
“I put my phone number on the note that I left for her and I guess she memorized it, so a few weeks later, she called me.”
Frederick says the young girl is now enrolled in college.