In an effort to fight the ongoing epidemic of human trafficking in Texas, UT Tyler hosted a panel Wednesday to raise awareness and discuss putting a stop to the issue.

The event was sponsored by the University's Center for Ethics and included a variety of guest speakers.

Texas A&M Associate Professor Cathy Miller said everyone in the community can play a vital role.

"It demands a community's response...but also a multi-disciplinary response team response at the local, federal and state level," Miller said.

While Miller said the problem can't be solved overnight, it's important to take that first step.

"Tyler may not be changing the world tonight, but they're casting that ripple that is going to meet Dallas' ripple with Austin's ripple, with the federal ripple and the state response."

According to data released in 2013 by the National Human Trafficking Center, Texas ranks second for human trafficking crimes, which is why Miller said it's important to recognize the signs.

"Someone is being held captive either physically, by force, fraud or coercion. They have no choice. They're abused psychologically and physically with no way out."

Miller said businesses can also play a vital role in identifying human trafficking victims.

"It was a house keeper at a local hotel that recognized the signs and reported to law enforcement and subsequently saved a victim."

More information and additional resources regarding human trafficking can be found online.