Governor John R. Kasich's Human Trafficking Task Force (Task Force) is launching an awareness campaign throughout the state to coincide with Human Trafficking Awareness Month during January. The Task Force defines human trafficking as the illegal trade of human beings for commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor. It is one of the fastest growing criminal enterprises worldwide and is on pace to surpass the drug trade in less than five years. (Source, Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force Report-June 27, 2012) Unfortunately, Ohio is not immune to this plague. Each year an estimated 1,078 Ohio children become victims of human trafficking and 3.016 more are at-risk. Governor Kasich is committed to addressing this problem and on March 29, 2012, he signed an executive order forming the Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force, which published a report with recommendations to address the problem, in conjunction with House Bill 262, The Ohio Human Trafficking Act of 2012. The Task Force reported that the first and most significant gap is the public knowledge of human trafficking is low. One of the recommendations made was for the launching of a public awareness campaign and training for all state employees on human trafficking. Extensive training was also recommended for anyone in positions that come into contact with victims. Licensed speech-language pathologists and audiologists serve populations where human trafficking could occur. Schools are the largest work setting for practitioners. Many school districts have already incorporated human trafficking training into their in-service professional development topics, and more work settings are expected to follow, as public awareness about this issue continues to expand. Each of us can play a role to prevent Ohio's young people from being trafficked.
The human trafficking awareness campaign will focus on three key areas:
- To educate the public on how to recognize the signs of human trafficking;
- To promote the appropriate method for reporting human trafficking situations; and
- To direct victims of human trafficking to available services and treatment, helping them to regain control of their lives.
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