While many people might think that human trafficking is a problem limited to places outside the United States, the sad truth is that it happens everywhere — even in Ohio. To fight this modern-day form of slavery, Human Trafficking Awareness Month (which is commemorated each January) is designed to spread knowledge of this serious issue so that we can put a stop to it.
The most common forms of human trafficking are sex trafficking and labor trafficking. Victims of these practices are frequently subjected to sexual abuse, rape, and other forms of violence. All too often, the victims go unnoticed — and many of them come from our own communities. A report by the Ohio Governor’s Human Trafficking Task Force determined that approximately 90% of runaway children in the state get involved in sex trafficking.
As part of this awareness campaign, one of the most important things citizens can do is learn to recognize the signs of human sex and labor trafficking. Victims are often young and overly submissive. They offer rehearsed-sounding answers to even the most casual of questions. Quite often, they aren’t allowed to speak for themselves, and may appear malnourished or physically abused. Victims of human trafficking are often found in locations where it is unusual to find children, such as a truck stop or serving in a restaurant.
If you suspect you’ve encountered a victim of human trafficking, don’t be afraid to act. Remember, your call to the authorities could very well save someone from a lifetime of sexual abuse.