More than 1,000 children under 18 were sex-trafficking victims in Ohio during the past year, says the first statewide report by the Ohio Trafficking in Persons Study Commission, according to the Columbus Dispatch. Runaways were particularly at risk: One in three who have been gone from home for two weeks or longer are at serious risk of being trafficked for sex, the Report on the Prevalence of Human Trafficking in Ohio concluded.
The findings released yesterday by Attorney General Richard Cordray showed that in addition to the youth victims, an estimated 783 foreign-born people were trafficked for sex or forced labor in Ohio in the past year; another 3,437 were at risk. Although most of the youth victims were girls, boys also were trafficked. The numbers might be surprising to people who don’t know what trafficking is or that it’s a problem in Ohio. Several commission members said the victim estimate is conservative and in all likelihood low. Teresa Flores, a commissioner from suburban Columbus who was trafficked as a teenager, said the estimates are low because they don’t include non-foreign women 18 to 24 years old, an age group frequently victimized.