Fighting human trafficking
Today we start a two-part series on a difficult subject. Human trafficking is a global concern that affects children and women here in our own state with foster children being among the most vulnerable. Emily Frazier, LISW-S, clinical director in our children’s residential center, helps us better understand this growing issue.
In the past few years, there has been an increase in human trafficking crimes. Our state is ranked near the top of the list for human trafficking. Through collaborative efforts, 177 arrests were made and 109 survivors were rescued this past week during the largest anti-human trafficking operation in Ohio’s history.
CCHO has received an increased number of referrals from counties for placement of survivors, particularly for teenage girls. We have provided residential trauma care to three survivors in the last year. We are also seeing a growing number of children who were trafficked by their own parents/family members. It is anticipated that these numbers will continue to rise as the awareness of human trafficking rises.
The Polaris Project, a data-driven social justice movement to fight sex and labor trafficking, defines human trafficking as “the business of stealing freedom for profit. In some cases, traffickers trick, defraud or physically force victims into selling sex. In others, victims are lied to, assaulted, threatened or manipulated into working under inhumane, illegal or otherwise unacceptable conditions. It is a multi-billion dollar criminal industry that denies freedom to 24.9 million people around the world.”
There are new laws being formulated to hold those who traffic accountable for their crimes. There has been an increased push on the federal level to address human trafficking with more federal resources levied to seek out trafficking rings throughout the nation. This problem is not specific to the United States, however.
Here are some resources that can help you gain some perspective on the scope of the problem.
The issue of human trafficking is deep and often misunderstood. It goes beyond sex trafficking. There is a need to address this at multiple levels. Often, children in foster care are more vulnerable to traffickers. Substance use/abuse in families leads to parents trafficking their own children to support their own drug use. Even the pandemic/mask wearing has aided in the increase of human trafficking as facial expressions cannot be read behind a mask making it easier to move victims. The problem is much bigger than just watching out for creepy, suspicious vehicles.
It’s time to do more to stop human trafficking. Explore the resources listed above and then contact your elected representatives and ask what they are doing to fight this issue. Join local task groups committed to making change and fighting human trafficking.
In our next blog post to be released on November 10, we will share how CCHO is caring for survivors of human trafficking by addressing their trauma through individualized services.