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January 10, 2022 by Jennifer Little

https://stocksnap.io/author/mattmoloney

Human Trafficking is an issue that affects Ohioans of all socioeconomic and racial backgrounds, and Wear Blue Day is an effort to raise awareness of the signs and to, ultimately, stop this crime which destroys lives of vulnerable people in our own communities, and across the U.S.

The U.S. Department of Justice describes Human Trafficking as” a crime that involves exploiting a person for labor, services, or commercial sex”.  The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 further recognized that this issue includes the use of “force, fraud or coercion” as well as the recruitment of those too young to give legal consent (under age 18).  This Act began to draw national attention to what is often referred to as “modern day slavery”.

The Department of Homeland Security describes the many ways this issue affects the people and institutions of United States – “Human trafficking threatens our physical and virtual borders, our immigration and customs systems, our prosperity, our national security, our personal and public safety.” Addressing the issues related to human trafficking is a national priority and includes strategies 1) to support organizations combating Human Trafficking, 2) to limit the Importation of Goods Produced with Forced Labor, and 3) to end Child Sexual Exploitation.

Human Trafficking is not only a national concern, but a significant problem right here in Ohio.  According to the Ohio Attorney General’s Criminal Justice Update in January 2020, Ohio ranks 4th in the nation for prevalence of human trafficking, even though our state population is only ½ to 1/3 of other highly ranked states.  In 2019 the Ohio Organized Crime Investigation Commission was part of an effort that rescued 110 trafficked victims and referred another 217 people to victim services.  One major Ohio law enforcement operation in 2020, involved 76 open missing/exploited children cases. 

January 11th is National Wear Blue Day and is part of the Blue Campaign sponsored by the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to raise awareness about the issue of human trafficking and to educate individuals, law enforcement and organizations about how to recognize indications of human trafficking, and what to do if they suspect someone is being trafficked.

What are signs that someone may be the victim of human trafficking?

  • A person who appears fearful, timid or acts overly submissive or defers to an older or controlling companion for basic questions
  • Someone who has a sudden or significant change in behavior or withdrawal from school or other outside activities
  • A person who seems to lack possessions or appears to have been denied food, sleep, or medical care
  • A person who appears to have bruises at various stages of healing, signs that he/she may have experienced physical abuse over time
  • Someone who seems to have an overly restrictive living situation, such as limited ability to move about or to leave on their own

What can you do to assist someone you suspect may be a victim of human trafficking or to help combat this issue in your community?

  1. Report suspected human trafficking to the federal authorities at 1-866-347-2423.
  2. Encourage or assist the victim to text HELP or INFO to 233733 (BeFree). 
  3. Bring awareness to this crime by participating in #WearBlueDay on January 11th. Learn more about @DHSBlueCampaign and #WearBlueDay here:  https://www.dhs.gov/blue-campaign/wearblueday.                                                                                                           
  4. In Ohio, participate in the Attorney General’s initiative to end human trafficking by visiting the website:  https://www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/humantrafficking.

Written by: Jennifer Little, MS, RD, LD, FCS Educator, OSU Extension Hancock County

Reviewed by: Susan Zies, MEd, FCS Educator, OSU Extension Wood County

Sources:

  1. U.S. Department of Justice website:  https://www.justice.gov/humantrafficking
  2. Homeland Security Human Trafficking webpage: https://www.dhs.gov/topic/human-trafficking
  3. Ohio Attorney General website: https://www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/Media/Newsletters/Criminal-Justice-Update/January-2020/New-human-trafficking-efforts-aim-to-make-a-differ
  4. Homeland Security Blue Campaign webpage: https://www.dhs.gov/blue-campaign/wearblueday

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