During the month of January, we remembered the remarkable and impactful service of Martin Luther King Jr. In that same spirit, we should also consider the human rights issues still plaguing our country and our state.
Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery where predators profit by targeting vulnerable people and exploiting them for labor or commercial sex through force, fraud or coercion. In our state and our local communities, we must increase our efforts to ending this horrific crime.
Every year in Ohio nearly 1,100 children become victims of human trafficking and an estimated 3,000 more children are at-risk. Over the past several years Ohio has improved laws to fight trafficking, created the Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force, and increased the amount of resources available for victims and the public. These are all crucial steps in the fight to return dignity and freedom to the victims of human trafficking, but there is still work to be done.
The Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force released recommendations in June of 2012 which cited the most significant barrier to combating human trafficking in Ohio is a lack of public knowledge. Since then, the 10 state agencies that comprise the task force have worked to develop an aggressive awareness campaign. The details of that campaign, including tips to help identify human trafficking and instructions on how to report the crime are now available at HumanTrafficking.Ohio.gov.
I encourage all Ohioans to join us in the fight to end human trafficking. To report any suspicion of human trafficking, Ohioans should call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline at 1-888-3737-888 or text BeFree (233733). You can also file a confidential report online at www.PolarisProject.org.
Things you should know when reporting a trafficking crime:
Describe the situation that led you to believe human trafficking was occurring.
Explain why you suspect it is by force, fraud, or coercion?
Offer all additional information including names, addresses, phone number, license plate, demographics, and physical description of controller or victim.
Victims of human trafficking should be directed to the Victim Support Service’s 24-hour hotline at 1-800-346-7555 or online at www.PolarisProject.org.
Ohio is facing the harsh and terrifying reality that human trafficking is occurring right here in our state and we must come together to fight it. One of the most important things you can do to combat human trafficking is to continue to learn more about labor and sex trafficking and spread awareness. As we remember the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. I hope you’ll join me in honoring his life’s work by bringing fairness, equality and dignity to all by fighting modern-day slavery in Ohio.
Senator Bill Beagle serves the people of Ohio’s 5th Senate District, which includes Miami and Preble Counties as well as portions of Montgomery and Darke Counties. He presides as the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Workforce & Economic Development.