Human trafficking is a crime that involves one person exploiting another through the use of force, fraud, or coercion to perform commercial sex or labor. Human trafficking can occur to anyone from any community, regardless of age, gender, race, nationality, religion, or class.
Traffickers can be anyone. Some are strangers while others are peers, family members, employers, or romantic partners. Children and youth involved in the child protection system, because they have experienced previous abuse or neglect, or are homeless or run away, may be targeted by traffickers who prey on children with unmet emotional, familial, and basic needs.
In late 2017, the Ohio Department of Public Safety’s Office of Criminal Justice Services was awarded a grant by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Victims of Crime to combat child trafficking in Ohio. The Improving Outcomes for Child and Youth Victims of Human Trafficking grant is a three-year project with three goals:
- Increasing expertise of child welfare agencies to identify and refer potential victims for services;
- Reducing barriers to services by promoting screening protocols for child-serving agencies and juvenile courts; and
- Increasing implementation of the Safe Harbor legal statute for minor victims of human trafficking.
Children services agencies play a key role in every community’s response to the trafficking of children, and play a role in the prevention of human trafficking by serving children at greater risk of future victimization. But agencies cannot address human trafficking alone; multidisciplinary, collaborative approaches that bring together juvenile justice, law enforcement, homeless and runaway youth services, victim service providers, mental health professionals, and others are required to address the needs of trafficked youth.
Through this project, PCSAO can provide training and technical assistance to public children services agencies, juvenile courts, foster parents, and those working with transition-age youth.
Contact: Bhumika Patel, PCSAO Anti-Human Trafficking Coordinator, 614-224-5802
- Child Welfare Information Gateway provides resources for children services professionals on Federal laws and policies, prevention, identification, and response to human trafficking.
- The National Human Trafficking Hotline, a toll-free hotline, 1-888-373-7888, is available for victims, survivors, and the anti-human trafficking community anywhere in the country, 24/7, in more than 200 languages.
- The Governor’s Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force
- The Ohio Human Trafficking Commission