Hello! As a Public Health Week activity, this blog has been started in an effort to bring more attention to human trafficking, especially in Northeast Ohio. We will post links and videos and ask for your input throughout the process. Please give us your thoughts and feedback on this issue. Watch our videos and access the related links.


Please take our poll on human trafficking knowledge:



Please view this site on important facts and information about human trafficking world wide:

How can you help to fight human trafficking?


I’m sure that at this point, many of you who have been reading and tweeting this blog have wondered what you can do to help fight human trafficking. I wondered the same thing, it’s one reason why I wanted to tackle this subject matter for Public Health Week, 2015. I have friends and colleagues who also have an interest in the subject and they are involved in many ways. Like I said in an earlier blog, from 4/3/15, after having dinner with one of my friends who is heavily involved in combating human trafficking in Summit County, Ohio, I was driving home and saw a young girl who was having difficulty walking in very high stiletto heals. She had on a white sequence dress that glistened in the street light glow. Walking next to her was an older man who was dressed in a black hoodie and drooping jeans. He had a hold of her arm and was dragging her along while she struggled to keep up. I watched her stumble a couple of times on the uneven sidewalk and he seemed impatient. I slowed down and looked directly at them, she looked at me and he ignored me. I seriously thought about stopping and asking her if she was okay and if I could help her. I almost turned the corner to stop at the cross street right in front of them. But then a little voice told me to just get a good look at them and call the authorities. I got up to the next stop light and called 911 to report it. I have no idea what happened or if it was a trafficking situation, however, I’m glad that I called and was proactive. I’d rather be wrong and have called, than to have been right and not done anything at all. This blog is my attempt to disseminate information, increase knowledge and awareness and to hopefully educate people on the subject of human trafficking. It is just one way that I’m attempting to do something to help fight human trafficking.


The U.S. Department of State lists 20 ways you can help fight human trafficking. Here are 15 of those ideas:

1. Learn the red flags that may signal a human trafficking situation: Living with an employer, poor living conditions, multiple people in a cramped space, inability to speak to anyone alone, answers that are scripted or rehearsed, signs of physical abuse, submissive or fearful, unpaid or paid very little for labor, under 18 and in prostitution. If something seems off, take action and call the proper authorities.

2. Keep the number to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, 800-373-7888, in a place where you can use it. Save it on your phone, write it on a card and keep in in your wallet or vehicle. It is a 24/7 number and you will be connected with someone within your service area. You can also use this number to find training in your local area, get technical assistance and find resources. Call you local authorities or federal law enforcement directly to get help from the Department of Homeland Security at 866-347-2432 (24/7). You can also submit an online tip at

3. Be a conscientious consumer. Discover your slavery footprint at . Also, you can look at the Department of Labor’s List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor at . Lastly, you can encourage companies to take steps to investigate and eliminate slavery and human trafficking in their chain stores. You can do this at the following link: . As a consumer, you can also purchase items made by trafficking survivors such as: Made By Survivors, . Half The Sky Movement, . Fair Trade Designs, .

4. Incorporate human trafficking information into your professional life through conferences, associations, trainings, manuals and other informational and training materials. Try the following links to search for human trafficking materials and programs: Institute for Human Education, . Anti-Slavery, . MbAbolitionists, . Stanford Global Studies, .

5. Join or start a grassroots anti-trafficking coalition. There are many coalitions in the U.S. and Ohio. Here is a list of some of those resources that you can work with: National Organization for Victim Assistance, . Victims Assistance Program of Summit County, Ohio, . The Justice League of Oho, . Office of Justice Programs, Office for Victims of Crime, . National Human Trafficking Resource Center, .

6. Meet and write to your local, state and federal representatives about combating human trafficking in your community and beyond. The following links will provide you with resources to find your representatives: Open Congress, . Common Cause, . USA Government Made Easy, .

7. Distribute public awareness materials. Materials for use and distribution can be found at the following sites: Department of Health and Human Services, . Department of Homeland Security, . The Polaris Project, . National Human Trafficking Resource Center, .

8. Volunteer to do victim outreach or offer your professional services. The National Human Trafficking Resource Center offers a link to find an organization near you where you can volunteer and offer your professional services: .

9. Donate funds or needed items to an anti-trafficking organization in your area or organize a fundraiser and donate the proceeds to an anti-trafficking organization. . This is a great fundraising cause for class reunions, graduating class projects, school projects, fraternity and sorority philanthropic causes and many other organizational fundraisers.

10. Encourage your local schools to partner with students and include the issue of modern day slavery in their curriculum. The Fredrick Douglass Family Initiatives offers curriculum ideas for schools: . As a parent, educator, school administrator or professional, be aware of how traffickers target school-aged children. The following is a fact sheet from the U.S. Department of Education on human trafficking of children for schools. factsheet

11. Follow this blog, set up a Google or Yahoo alert to receive current human trafficking news. Find web sites and blogs to follow on human trafficking. If you have a Google or Yahoo account, you can set it up so that you will receive the most updated information on a specific topic. Just go to your Google or Yahoo account and search alerts. Then put in the key words on subjects you want to receive updates on.

12. Host an awareness event at an organization or group you belong to, or at your place of employment. Incorporate human trafficking information and initiatives into current workshops, group initiatives, trainings and other areas. Set up a guest speaker from a local organization to come and speak to your group or organization on human trafficking. Use the following link to find local anti-trafficking organizations: The Ntional HumanTrafficking Resource Center, . If you are an educator, encourage students to research and create an awareness event on human trafficking. The following link from the United Nations has a listing of human trafficking documentaries that can be used for awareness and educational purposes: .

13. Start a letter writing campaign, or write your own letter to local media, newspapers and legislators. If you are an educator, encourage your students to start a letter writing campaign on human trafficking.

14. Start or sign a human trafficking petition. Petitions can be found at the following site:, .

15. The following are ideas for different individuals and organizations:

  • Businesses: Provide internships, job skills training, and jobs to trafficking survivors.
  • Students: Take action in your school or campus. Join or establish school clubs, awareness campaigns, fundraisers and other initiatives.
  • Educators: Utilize human trafficking curriculum and incorporate into your class teachings. Start school campaigns on human trafficking.
  • Law enforcement officials: Join or start a local human trafficking task force.
  • Mental health or medical providers: Offer low-cost or free services to human trafficking victims who are being assisted by local anti-trafficking organizations. Train your staff to be aware of the signs and symptoms and to identify the indicators of human trafficking, to assist victims and to make referrals to supporting agencies.
  • Attorneys: Look for signs of human trafficking in clients. Offer pro-bono services to trafficking victims or anti-trafficking organizations.


U. S. Department of State:

LGBTQ Individuals And Their Vulnerability to Human Trafficking

Watch this video created by the Los Angeles LGBT Center: “Parents Abandon Him for Being Gay; What Happens Next Is Too Common”
Read this article on LGBT survivors of human trafficking by Watermark Online:

Human trafficking is a big concern and issue within the LGBTQ community. To begin with, because of homophobia and discrimination, LGBTQ youth are regularly victimized and bullied by their peers, ostracized by family members and their communities, and are more likely to have lower self-esteem, higher stress, anxiety, depression and a higher suicide rate than their heterosexual counterparts, setting the groundwork for them to become victims of human trafficking at a young age. According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, LGBTQ youth are roughly 7 times more likely to be victims of sexual violence than heterosexual youth. Although LGBTQ individuals make up about 3-5% of the population, it is estimated that almost 40% of the runaway population consists of LGBTQ youth. Overall, 1 in 3 homeless youth will end up being recruited by a pimp or john within 48 hours of running away, and 59% of LGBTQ homeless youth have been sexually exploited compared to 33% of heterosexual homeless youth.

Homeless LGBTQ youth are 3 times more likely to participate in survival sex than their heterosexual counterpart runaways. Survival sex is when an individual engages in prostitution due to their extreme need. LGBTQ youth who engage in survival sex do it to trade sex for food, a place to sleep, clothing, drugs and other basic needs. It is common for a night of survival sex for need to turn into a human sex trafficking situation.

In 2014, the U.S. Department of State wrote a report titled, “Trafficking in Persons Report 2014”, which highlighted the vulnerability of LGBT individuals to human trafficking. In this report, they state that as of 2013, “nearly 80 countries had laws that criminalize people on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.” These individuals face elevated threats of violence, discrimination in education, healthcare, employment, and in their communities. These anti-LGBTQ laws assist in making LGBTQ youth more vulnerable to human trafficking.

Within the U.S., a new senate bill would protect LGBTQ youth from homeless and trafficking. It is called S. 262: Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act. It was initially proposed in October of 2014, and was reintroduced on January 27, 2015. It was assigned to committee on the same day. This bill will hopefully protect all runaway and homeless youth from human trafficking.

  •  Sources:

The National Coalition for the Homeless:

Human Trafficking Search:

Administration for Children and Families:

U.S. Department of State:



Myths Vs. Realities of Human Trafficking


Let’s dispel some myths about human trafficking:

First, watch this video about two American teens who were lured into sex trafficking from Shared Hope International.

1. Myth: Child sex trafficking is not happening in the United States.

Fact: 100,000 to 300,000 children are trafficked in the United States each year. These are American children who are kidnapped, lured and conned into a life of selling their sexual services with as many as 48 exploiters per day. The average age of an American child to be exploited is 12-14. It happens in cities, suburbs and rural towns and even in your own community.

2. Myth: Human trafficking is only sex trafficking.

Fact: Sex trafficking is not the only form of human trafficking. Human trafficking also includes forced labor on farms/agriculture, domestic homesteads, sweat shops, fishing industry, labor industries, massage parlors, restaurants and hotels.

3. Myth: Human trafficking victims will attempt to seek help when in public.

Fact: Human trafficking is often a hidden crime. Victims may be afraid to come forward and ask for help because their lives or the lives of their loved ones are being threatened. Often they don’t see themselves as a victim and gain the mentality that they are performing for their traffickers out of loyalty and insecurities. They are often coerced and forced to participate in whatever trade they are being trafficked in with violence, threats of violence, fear of retribution from their traffickers, or they may not have any control over money, legal documents or their physical selves. They develop a lack of trust, self-blame and a victim mentality of being helpless. Most victims are brain washed and may have Stockholm Syndrome.

4. Myth: Human Traffickers are what the movies portray them to be.

Fact: Traffickers are not always powerful gangsters and organized crime lords. Often times, they are local pimps or johns who may have up to 6 girls at a time. Trafficking occurs within a wide range of socioeconomic classes and those involved could be anyone. There is no one type of trafficker. In some cases traffickers are farmers, agriculturalists, politicians, local law enforcement, businessmen and women, restauranteurs, neighbors, boyfriends, parents, siblings and other family members and family friends.

 5. Myth: Only women and girls are trafficked.

Fact: Men and boys are also victims of human trafficking, however, they get much less media attention than trafficked women and girls. According to the Human Trafficking Center, about 98% of sexual exploited humans are female, with 2% or about 400,000 being men and boys. However, when looking at those who are victims of labor exploitation, 42-60% of victims are men and boys. Boys are also used in the sex trade and up to 40% of those traffickers and perpetrators that exploit boys are women.

6. Myth: Human trafficking and human smuggling are the same.

Fact: Although the two terms are used interchangeably, they are not the same. Human trafficking, by definition, is a crime against a person that involves the recruiting, harboring, exploiting and selling of a person for prostitution, forced labor, or slavery. Human smuggling is a crime against a country’s borders, and involves the movement of a person across a country’s border with that person’s consent and in violation of immigration laws. Although they are very different, human smuggling can turn into human trafficking when coercion, force, and fraud is used to hold individuals against their will for the purposes of labor or sexual exploitation.

7. Myth: Individuals MUST be forced or coerced into the commercialization of sex acts or pornography in order to be a victim of human trafficking.

Fact: Under U.S. federal law, any minor under the age of 18 who is urged to perform commercial sex acts or pornography is a victim of human trafficking regardless of whether he/she is forced or coerced. Even if the trafficked individual is an adult, and initially consented to their initial situation, whether it be sexual or labor related, if they are then kept against their will through coercion or threats, then the initial situation is not relevant to the initial crime. Just because they initially made the decision to participate in sexual or labor related activities does not mean they knew better and does not mean that they deserved to have it escalate to a human trafficking situation.

8. Myth: Human trafficking only occurs in illegal underground industries.

Fact: Human trafficking can occur in both legitimate and illegitimate environments. Legitimate business settings include agriculture/farming, restaurants, hotels, other hospitality businesses, manufacturing and labor businesses. Illegitimate business settings include brothels, illegal massage parlors, street based and internet based commercial sex.

9. Myth: Human trafficking victims always come from situations of poverty, homelessness, runaways, or from small rural villages.

Fact: Although poverty, homelessness and runaway status are factors in human trafficking because it puts the victims in a more vulnerable position, those alone are not causal factors or universal indicators of a human trafficking victim. Although, about 55% of prostituted men and women were initially runaway youth, there are other factors that lead to vulnerability. Individuals who have experienced violence and trauma; domestic violence, sexual assault, social discrimination, war and conflict, in the past are more vulnerable to being exploited. Given this information, on the other side, trafficking victims come from a range of socioeconomic levels, and even families from higher incomes and very good communities are vulnerable to exploitation as well.

10. Myth: There must be elements of physical restraint, physical force, or physical bondage when identifying a human trafficking situation.

Fact: Trafficking of any kind does not need physical restraint, force or bondage to be considered a criminal act. There are many situations where children are exploited in the labor force. They go to “work” every day and do what they are told, and continue to do so just by a threat of harm, or the threat of not providing for their family, or shame. Children especially are more susceptible to psychological control, threats, fraud, brain washing and other forms of coercion. The Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) of 2000 initially addressed more subtle forms of control that did not include bodily harm. The newer acts go even further in protecting victims and provide harsher punishments for the perpetrator.

  • Sources

Trafficking Resource Center:

U.S. Department of Homeland Security:


Shared Hope International:

Human Trafficking Center:

Human Trafficking Legislation: What are we doing about it?

Virtually every country in the world is affected by human trafficking crimes. It is a multi-billion dollar industry with millions of humans being exploited every day. The United nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) is the only United Nations entity focusing on the criminal justice element of these crimes. There is currently no law that governs world wide human trafficking. And, even if there was, it would be very difficult to monitor and enforce. Therefor, it is the responsibility of individual countries to develop, monitor and enforce their own laws. The last United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime and the Protocols Thereto, was held on November 15, 2000. Many other world wide protocols came from that one meeting including frameworks for extradition, mutual legal assistance, law enforcement cooperation and the increase in the capacity and authority of national authorities when it comes to human trafficking. However, not all countries have their own laws against human trafficking. In fact, out of the 36 countries in the Americas, only 58% have human trafficking laws that can accounted for (The Protection Project, 2015).

We can see the urgency needed on this issue. Even Pope Francis used his New Year Mass of 2015, to encourage the world to fight against human trafficking and modern slavery, and prior to that speech he brought together other religious leaders from Jewish, Muslim, Hindu and other faiths at the Vatican City on December 2, 2014 to call for an end to human trafficking and slavery by 2020.

In the United States, the cornerstone of Federal human trafficking legislation is the Trafficking Victims Protections Act (TVPA) of 2000, which was reauthorized in 2003, 2005, 2008 and 2013 (Title XII of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013). This act prosecutes traffickers, prevents human trafficking and protects the victims and survivors of trafficking. The reauthorization acts provide for the victims to sue their traffickers, protects against deportation, work to combat international trafficking, increase education, work to reduce trafficking internationally, strengthen trafficking reporting systems, provide protections and T-visas to victims, prevention of child marriage and emergency response provisions within the State Department to respond to trafficking crimes.

On September 29, 2014, H.R. 4980: Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act became law. The law protects children and youth at risk of sex trafficking, and helps to give states more authorization by adding a state plan requirement for reporting sex trafficking to law enforcement. There is currently safe harbor and anti-human trafficking legislation going through the House and Senate at this time. The Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015 (S. 178) has been amended as of March 19, 2015. Two provisions have been approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee: H.R. 246 – To improve the response to victims of child sex trafficking and the Bringing Missing Children Home Act of 2015. However, due to two specific provisions dealing with LGBT protections and anti-abortion provisions, it has hit a standstill and has faced bipartisan issues.

In Ohio, human trafficking laws have changed drastically since 2011. According to the Polaris Project State Ratings on Human Trafficking Laws, in 2011, Ohio met 4 out of 10 conditions. As of 2014, Ohio has met 9 out of 10 conditions.  On June 27, 2012, Governor Kasich signed Ohio HB 262 – Human Trafficking /”Safe Harbor” into law. This bill exempts minors who are victims of human trafficking from the crime of solicitation if the crime is coerced. It also required the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services and the Ohio Department of Mental Health to develop services that assist human trafficked victims, including a toll free victim assistance hotline. The Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force (OHTTF), formed in 2012, helps to provide resources and services for victims and the public on human trafficking. The OHTTF has been a driving force in getting Ohio state ratings up. On September 24, 2014, in Springfield Township, outside of Toledo in Lucas County, a human trafficking operation resulted in 14 arrests. Toledo, Ohio is in the top 4 gateway cities for human sex trafficking.

Other initiatives in Ohio include CATCH Court (Changing Actions To Change Habits), which was created by and  resided over by the Honorable Paul Herbert in Columbus, Ohio. Through this two-year program, women who are in his court due to prostitution are sent to residential rehabilitation programs to detox, receive intensive therapy, receive job training and peer support. The program has saved almost a million in jail costs and has rehabbed hundreds of women from prostitution. The most recent Ohio legislation is Ohio HB 130 – Human Trafficking. It was singed into law on June 20, 2014. This law gives protection to trafficked children through a court appointed guardian, placement with someone other than a parent who is participating in human trafficking and expands the prosecution for human trafficking from 6 years to 20 years.

If you are concerned about this topic, contact your state and federal legislators. Below are links to find your legislator.

The Ohio Legislature, 131st General Assembly:

OpenCongress Legislator Search:

  • Sources:

United Nations: http:

The Protection Project:

Religion News:

Polaris Project:

U.S Congress:

Ohio Attorney General:

Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force:


Child Sex Trafficking

  • Read A Mother’ Story: What Parents Need To Know About Trafficking:

Today, around the world, and in the United States, child sex trafficking has become the fastest and most lucrative growing organized crime business. According to UNICEF, children from around the world, from US coast to US coast, and even right next door are kidnapped, recruited, transported, transferred, harbored, received, exploited and sold all to make money in the ever growing sex trade. Boys are exploited as much as girls and the average age to start in the trade is 12-14 years old. The majority of sex trafficked children started out as run-a-ways and found themselves in situations where they were abducted, coerced, threatened, physically, mentally and sexually abused and brain-washed into thinking that if they left then they or someone they loved would pay the price. According to The Covering House, within 48 hours after leaving home, 1/3 of run-a-ways will end up being lured into sex trafficking. According to a study out of John Jay University, most buyers are males between the ages of 25 and 55, however, women buyers make up about 12% of those who buy children for sex.

In the United States alone, every year, there are 100,000 documented cases of child sex trafficking, but according to the US State Department, that number could be as high as 300,000 annually. These are American children, not necessarily children who are transported and harbored from other countries. According to The Covering House, a pimp can make $100,000 – $200,000 per child per year and has an average of 4 to 6 children working for them at a time. According to the Center for Missing and Exploited Children, 20% of all child pornography sites involve children who have been forced into the sex trade. Advertising for child trafficking usually takes place on websites and some in specific newspapers that are just for those who want to buy a child for a few minutes. Some pimps and johns hang out on corners and pass out cards advertising their brothels and girls. This happens in broad daylight in some major cities. According to Some children are forced to have sex with between 25 and 50 buyers a night, with all of the money they make going straight to their pimps or johns. (See the ABC video below for more about child sex slaves in brothels in major cities.)

This and other facts has made me be more aware of my surroundings, especially when I’m driving at night. Just on Friday, I was on my way home from a nice dinner with a friend. I live in a very family-oriented neighborhood and you don’t see many people walking around at night. As I was driving home, I saw a young girl who was having a very difficult time walking in stiletto heals and a sexy sequenced dress on. The dress was sparkling from the glow of the streetlight. Next to her, holding her arm, seemingly dragging her along was a man, older than her. I wondered if this was a trafficking situation. I slowed, looked at them, and thought about stopping and asking her if she was okay. But, for my own safety, I called the police. I don’t know what ever happened, but at least I feel as if I did something. I was disheartened that there was a possibility that this could be happening in my back yard. I realized that not one of us is really immune to this epidemic.

  • The following video is from ABC News and aired on Wednesday, June 25, 2014.

  • Below are fact sheets that can be used from the Center of Missing and Exploited Children:



  • Sources:


Modern Slavery: Human Trafficking


A& E Special: “8 Minute, Welcome To Houston”

According to Slavery Footprint, world wide, there are 27 million men, women and children in the slave trade today. It is estimated that 4.7 million of those are in the sex trade, with hundreds of thousands of those being trafficked in the U.S. alone. In the U.S, it is estimated that between 100,000 and 150,000 of those trafficked are children, with almost 60,000 new trafficking cases annually. Eighty percent of those trafficked are women and girls. The average age of a girl being put into the sex slave trade is 12-14 years of age. According to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC), 60% of those who end up in the sex trafficking trade were runaways.

According to the NHTRC, the needs of trafficked individuals are complicated and requires a multidisciplinary approach that includes social services, counseling, interventions, emergency shelters, medical care, emergency planning, job resources, housing, food, clothing and many other services.

On A&E, there is a special focusing on human trafficking, specifically in the sex trade. It is called, “8 Minutes”. A former police officer and current pastor takes a team of cameramen, officers, and former trafficked women into a sting operation to help women who are currently in the sex traffic trade get out of the trade. They refer to these women as victims. It is a dangerous business. Click on the link below to view the special on A&E, which aired for the first time April 2, 2015.


Slavery Footprint:


Human Trafficking in Ohio

We have many events that occur in Ohio that spur the increase in human trafficking.

Did you know that during the Bridgestone Invitational World Golf Championship that is held in Akron, brings traffickers from all over to sell their human slaves? Some of these girls and boys are as young as 11 years old. The Pro-Football Hall of Fame game held in Canton, is also a big event that will increase the number of trafficked humans that will be brought to our Ohio cities. There is an expected increase in human trafficking in Cleveland when the Republican National Convention comes to town in 2016. These and other major events bring in the traffickers looking to make money from the humans they own and sell. Even through these major events are good for our cities, our state, and our local economies, they are also unwilling contributors to the trafficking of innocent humans as sex and labor slaves. Those who own these innocent slaves take advantage of the increased number of people and unsavory individuals who will pay good money for sex and labor slaves.

In Ohio, the Attorney General and other organizations have made significant strides to increase laws and punishments for human traffickers and those that pay for the services of human slaves. According to the Polaris Project, in 2011, Ohio had only 3-4 out of 10 statutes for dealing with human trafficking. In 2014, great strides have been made and Ohio now has 9 out of 10 statues.

How can we as public health professionals get involved? Below is a listing of organizations in Ohio that are working towards the effort to empower communities and individuals to reduce and eventually eradicate human trafficking. We can support these organizations and offer to disseminate their materials and information. We can volunteer for these hard working organizations or give our students opportunities to do projects, research and internships with them. We can simply get in touch with them and see what they need from the community to reach their goals and meet their missions.

Victims Assistance:

Collaborative to End Human Trafficking:

Citizens For Community Values:

Human Trafficking Task Force Campaign brochures:

Polaris Project:

Polaris Project State Ranking Laws:

Rehab, A Ministry of Hope:

Ohio Attorney General Human Trafficking Commission: