Human trafficking, a multi-billion dollar, international enterprise has become a worldwide threat. Every year, thousands of men, women and children fall into the hands of traffickers. Human traffickers prey on the most innocent and vulnerable people, forcing them into modern-day slavery for the purpose of exploitation—prostitution or other forms of sexual exploitation, slavery, forced labor or service, servitude or the removal of organs.
Although human trafficking is a worldwide problem; a staggering 100,000 children are thought to be involved in the sex trade in the United States alone. Human trafficking is a growing problem right here in Ohio. The most common age in Ohio for youth to become victims of child sex trafficking is 13 years old. A recent study found that out of 207 individuals, 49 percent were under 18 years old when they were first trafficked. Research shows that youth who have been sexually abused or are repeat runaways are more likely to be victims of human trafficking. For this reason, the child welfare system is a key community partner in the identification and service of at-risk teens.
Building upon Attorney General Richard Cordray’s Trafficking in Persons Study, Attorney General Mike DeWine launched the Human Trafficking Commission in August 2011. The Human Trafficking Commission includes elected and appointed officials, religious groups, members of local, state, and federal law enforcement, public and private social agencies, and schools. This group meets regularly to find ways to help victims and prosecute traffickers.
The Human Trafficking Commission was a major contributor in the passing of House Bill 262, more commonly known as the Safe Harbor Law. This law improves care for juvenile trafficking victims. The Safe Harbor Law increased human trafficking charges to a first-degree felony with a mandatory prison term of at least ten years. Upon release from prison, human traffickers are also required to register as sex offenders. This law also allows records of adult human trafficking victims to be expunged.
The Human Trafficking Commission can’t stop human trafficking alone. At Family & Children Services of Clark County, we make the safety and well being of children our number one concern. Citizens are encouraged to report suspected cases of child abuse, neglect, dependency or human trafficking, especially when observing the following:
- Extreme security measures locking employees in—barbed wire inside of a fence, bars covering the insides of windows.
- Individuals who seem controlled or manipulated—not allowed to speak for themselves or go out in public alone.
- At nail salons, look for sleeping bags or a living space that may indicate employees are living where they work. Another indication may be if workers at this salon are driven to the store in groups all at once.
- When communicating with workers, answers seem scripted or rehearsed.
- Workers are very young, timid or particularly submissive.
- Young children serving in a family restaurant.
- An older male checking into a hotel with a young female or females.
- The use of slang terms for “pimp,” including “boyfriend” or “daddy”.
- A tattoo of a man’s name or a slang name on the female’s neck, leg, or shoulder.
- An individual who carries multiple cell phones, laptops, etc.
To learn more about child abuse prevention, visit Family & Children Services (FCS) or the Clark County Child Advocacy Center (CAC) online.