States Ramp Up the Fight Against Youth Trafficking

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Illustration by Leena Kejriwal via Flickr

The Ohio Supreme Court has awarded grants to two juvenile courts to help human trafficking survivors get access to the help and services they need, Court News Ohio reports. 

 Ohio courts of Delaware County and Hamilton County will each be granted approximately $75,000 every year for three years to hire a “Safe Harbor Coordinator” — someone who will develop comprehensive programs for survivors who are minors, and increase the number of justice-involved juveniles screened for human trafficking.

“With this position, our court will continue to prioritize enhanced screening and service connection, but with specific attention to young survivors of human trafficking.” said Judge Melissa Powers of the Hamilton County Court. 

“Tracking these cases and coordinating systemic supports through safe harbor programs will improve our community’s response to this important issue.”

The Ohio decision comes out as the latest statistics from the Safe House Project, a data-driven and program-oriented organization helping to train law enforcement and individuals on how to identify human trafficking and offer services, reveal a staggering increase in America’s human trafficking crisis. 

According to Safe House Project statistics, more than 300,000 children in the U.S. fall victim to trafficking every year in what is a multi-million dollar industry. 99 percent of those children are never identified — and of the 1 percent who are — only a small fraction get the care they need.

The Department of Justice estimates that there are between 14,500 and 17,500 foreign youths that are trafficked into the United States every year, for both labor and sex trafficking. 

The Ohio Court partnered with the governor’s Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force and the Office of Criminal Justice Services to provide funding and technical assistance. 

The initiative is funded by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office for Victims of Crime through a grant called Improving Outcomes for Child and Youth Victims of Human Trafficking. 

“Building the capacity of the juvenile justice system to identify and serve victims of human trafficking is a high priority of the governor’s Human Trafficking Task Force,” said Maria Busch, Ohio anti-human trafficking coordinator.

Other states may follow along similar paths for change. South Carolina announced last week that they’re working with Safe House Project to provide training to schools, healthcare centers, and law enforcement about how to identify victims, while also working to increase the number of safe houses for survivors, a local Fox News affiliate details. 

Similarly, the Iowa State Department of Public Safety announced in November that lodging providers, like hotels and motels, will be required to have all employees trained and certified in human trafficking prevention courses in order to receive public funds. Officials say their state faces a unique trafficking problem as they’re the intersection between Kansas City and Chicago, their state has become a thorofare for lodging. 

A National Action Plan

Last Friday, a multi-agency plan was released by the White House detailing ways that the U.S. government is going to work to dismantle human trafficking enterprises, specifically by going after their financial networks, communication systems, and other infrastructures. 

The updated National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking now also responds to address the needs of underserved individuals and families by offering greater links to programs and efforts in marginalized communities. 

The National Action Plan retains a central focus on the foundational pillars of U.S. and global anti-trafficking efforts – “prevention, protection, prosecution, and partnerships.”

“Human trafficking is an evil practice that contradicts who we are as Americans and the rights we cherish. ”Assistant to the President and Homeland Security Advisor Dr. Liz Sherwood-Randall wrote at the end of the White House release. 

She concluded, “With this National Action Plan, we reaffirm our commitment to preventing and punishing human trafficking in all its forms and to addressing the social and economic conditions that can create greater vulnerabilities for marginalized groups.” 

See Also: White House Announces Plan to ‘Dismantle’ Trafficking Organizations

Andrea Cipriano is Associated Editor of The Crime Report.

One thought on “States Ramp Up the Fight Against Youth Trafficking

  1. The first place they should start is to stop wasting time and resources by creating fake crimes ….men on ADULT sites looking for ADULT dates do not pose a threat!!! STOP WASTING OUR MONEY AND DEVASTATING LIVES OF MEN AND THEIR FAMILIES@!!@!

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