This January, organizations around Leon County will recognize National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. The goal is to raise awareness of human trafficking, including how to spot and report it.
Human trafficking can take many forms, most commonly sex trafficking and forced labor. Victims can come from all walks of life, and many are targeted through social media and even job posting websites according to media reports.
Florida ranks third in the United States for the highest reported human trafficking rate, according to the National Human Trafficking Hotline. The Hotline’s national statistics reveal that Florida reported 767 cases of trafficking in 2018.
In Leon County, human trafficking is a significant issue. Last year, the City Commissioners set a priority to improve public safety over the next five years by ending human trafficking in the area.
Recent sex trafficking cases involving children and teens have brought additional attention to the issue. And, according to Vania Llovera of the Florida State University Center for the Advancement of Human Rights, forced labor is another major problem in the area.
“Labor trafficking is major because of our economy, and it leads itself into abusing people, exploiting people,” Llovera told WFSU. “I believe that labor trafficking really is an area we need to look at more.”
One area organization, Survive and Thrive Advocacy, will host events throughout the month, including a community training program, a human trafficking forum, and a networking lunch.
The Office of the Attorney General is also recognizing the month and runs a website, “You Can Stop Human Trafficking,” dedicated to human trafficking awareness. The website includes resources for spotting signs of human trafficking and hotlines to report the crime.
Local and government organizations’ efforts throughout the month will aim to strengthen the community’s response to human trafficking and ultimately end the crime.