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Flight Attendant Trusted Her Gut and Rescued a Teenage Girl from Human Trafficking

For this girl, Ms. Frederick acted as a guardian angel in plain sight.

In 2011, aboard a flight from Seattle to San Francisco, flight attendant Sheila Frederick spotted a couple of passengers who seemed suspicious and her gut told her something was wrong [1]. She just knew there was something out of place about the two of them. A well-dressed, clean-cut man and a disheveled, disoriented teenager. The 49-year-old was led by her instincts to seek the girl out and eventually, she rescued her from trafficking. 

Frederick was attending to passengers on an Alaska Airlines flight when she discovered the girl. 

“Something in the back of my mind said something is not right,” Frederick said to 10 News [2]. “He was well dressed, that’s what kind of got me because, why is he well dressed and she was looking disheveled and out of sorts.”

Frederick tried to communicate with the girl but the man answered all the questions, obviously trying to keep the girl from giving his evil act away.

Video Credit: NBC 10 News.

Quick thinking from Frederick

Frederick said she was able to mutter to the girl under her breath to go to the bathroom. Hopefully, the man would allow her to ease herself on a 2-hour journey. Frederick quickly went to the bathroom and stuck a note on the mirror for the girl to find. 

She wrote on the note that she needed help,” Frederick said. She immediately reported the case to the pilots who were able to have the San Francisco police waiting at the airport. The trafficker was immediately whisked away to face the law once the plane landed. 

Frederick had trusted her gut and rescued a child from being sold into sex slavery or forced labor. Since 2009, state and national efforts have increased to train flight attendants to be on the lookout for signs of trafficking. Hundreds of traffickers would bring their victims onto planes and slip away undetected. Flight attendants are trained to identify people who appear to have been coerced onto the trip, battered, disheveled, terrify or reluctant to make eye contact. 

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,” Frederick said.

Frederick ended the interview with a public service announcement to viewers worldwide:  “If you see something, say something,” she said.

A society free of human trafficking

Human trafficking is the modern-day form of slavery, and many people do not believe it’s real even if it’s happening right in their backyards. All around the world, millions of men, women, teenagers, and children are abducted, forced or coerced into labor and/or sexual exploitation every year. Everyone’s so hung up on minding their businesses and not ticking their neighbors off that we don’t pay attention to the warning signs.  

In the United States, human trafficking became a federal crime in 2000 when the Trafficking Victims Protection Act was passed. There isno actual way to tell the number of people trafficked in the United States, but the 18,000 – 20,000 victims are trafficked into the country every year [3]. Several government agencies and non-profits work extremely hard to keep the situation under control and rescue as many victims as they can. However, hundreds of perpetrators still get away with their evil crimes.

The Department of Children and Families classifies human trafficking into three categories: sexual exploitation by a non-caregiver, such as an adult club or escort service; sexual exploitation by a parent, guardian or caregiver; and labor trafficking.

According to the U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement, “In the fiscal year 2016, HSI initiated 1,029 investigations with a nexus to human trafficking and recorded 1,952 arrests, 1,176 indictments, and 631 convictions; 435 victims were identified and assisted [4].”

Human trafficking is not a fight for the authorities alone. We are all in this together to keep one another safe from predators. 

From UNICEF USA [5]:

If you suspect that someone might be in danger:

Call the National Human Trafficking Hotline toll-free at 1-888-373-7888: Anti-Trafficking Hotline Advocates are available 24/7 to take reports of potential human trafficking.

Text the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 233733.

Chat the National Human Trafficking Hotline via www.humantraffickinghotline.org/chat

They are the best resource to handle the situation and would deploy local authorities immediately. 

Sources:

  1. ” Flight attendant saves teenage girl from human trafficking after seeing secret note.” Independent. May Bulman. Retrieved 19-11-19
  2. ” Flight attendant’s instinct stops case of human smuggling. “10 News. Jonathan Petramala. Retrieved 19-11-19
  3. ” 20 staggering facts about human trafficking in the US.” Business Insider. James Pasley. Retrieved 19-11-19
  4. Human Trafficking“. ICE. Retrieved 19-11-19
  5. How to Help Stop Child Trafficking.” UNICEF USA. Retrieved 19-11-19