BRYAN, TX — At any given moment, there are approximately 313 thousand victims of human trafficking in the state of Texas.
Three years ago, Unbound Bryan College Station made it their mission to support survivors of human trafficking here in the Brazos Valley.
“We support survivors of human trafficking and we resource the community through a variety of ways, through prevention education and awareness, by giving training on what does it look like, how is it happening in our community and what can you do to change that,” said Amanda Buenger, Founder & Executive Director, Unbound Bryan-College Station.
Unbound was founded in 2012 through Antioch Community Church in Waco, Texas. Since then, Unbound has expanded into a network of chapters and anti-human trafficking projects around the world.
Since launching in 2018, Unbound Bryan-College Station has served 28 survivors and trained over 4,000 individuals in the community.
While 60% of human trafficking victims in the United States have histories in child welfare, Buenger, has made it her mission to protect Brazos Valley youth.
“I have spent most of my career as a child welfare attorney, representing children as an ad litem in child abuse and neglect cases. A few years ago, I realized there was a gap in our community to serve the most vulnerable, which are exploited youth,” said Buenger.
According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline’s data, Texas had the second-highest number of human trafficking cases in America back in 2019 with 1,080 reported cases. Within those cases, 261 were minors. The data showed that 805 of the reported total cases involved sex trafficking and 111 involved labor trafficking.
While many may not suspect Aggieland to be susceptible to modern-day slavery, the reality is, our most vulnerable are being targeted and trafficked right here in the twin cities.
“We have a larger, generally younger population in our community, I think that’s a factor. I think our location, right in the middle of Houston, San Antonio, and Fort Worth, that Texas triangle, is an interesting location. Just the general makeup of our community makes us susceptible,” shared Buenger.
Susceptible, but not only for our daughters. Human trafficking victims in the U.S. include men and women, adults, and children.
According to a study conducted by the University of Texas School of Social Work, there are nearly 234,000 adult victims of labor trafficking and approximately 79,000 minor and youth victims of sex trafficking in Texas at any given time.
“We are seeing that spread from youth, all the way into an adult, both male and female, boy and girl. Human trafficking does not discriminate. We have seen across the spectrum in terms of age, ethnicity, background and that is true for our community,” said Buenger.
Friday night, Unbound is holding their annual Night of Hope, to bring the community together to raise awareness and funds to help survivors of human trafficking.
“Night of Hope is created to bring awareness and education to our community about what does human trafficking looks like? How is it happening in our community and what can our community do to come together and unite and say ‘Not in my city!" to the exploitation of the most vulnerable,” said Buenger.
This year’s Night of Hope keynote speaker is Karla Solomon, a trafficking victim that was saved right here in College Station. Karla will share her incredible story of trafficking, rescue, and redemption.
If you would like to attend Unbound’s Night of Hope this Friday, virtual packages are still available for purchase, right here.
The event starts at 6:30 P.M., on March 26.
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