You are here:Human trafficking is an estimated multi-billion a year international enterprise that forces the most vulnerable among us into the horrors of modern-day slavery. Criminals who are involved in trafficking other human beings prey upon those already at risk in our society, often our children. In fact, a preliminary report on the scope of the problem in Ohio cited 13 years old as the most common age in Ohio for youth to become victims of child sex trafficking. From the study's sample of 207 individuals, 49 percent were under 18 when they were first trafficked. Nationally, over 100,000 children are thought to be involved in the sex trade. It is reported at least 1000 children are recruited into sex trafficking from Ohio every year, however, it is believed this number is much higher due to under reporting. The Wood County Sheriff's Office has taken a proactive stance in the investigation, arrest, and conviction of the offenders who promote and purchase prostitution, while providing assistance to the victims of human trafficking.
It is important to realize both men and women recruit children into sex trafficking. Also, this can happen while the child has run away, been abducted, or while they are still residing in their own home.
Some red flags to consider if you suspect a child is being sex trafficked:
- Scripted answers.
- Inconsistencies in story.
- Branding or tattoos, especially that reflect ownership or money.
- Bruising, with varied stages of healing with black, purple, blue, yellow shades.
- Cigarette burns, rope burns, scars, cuts or other physical abuse.
- Coming on to several men.
- Appears helpless, shamed, nervous someone is watching them.
- Sexually transmitted diseases.
- Inability or fear to make eye contact.
- Chronic runaway; homeless youth.
- Dating much older, abusive or controlling man.
- Not attending school or has numerous school absences.
- Sudden change in attire, possessions, behavior, for example: obtaining an unexplainable new cell phone or outfits.
- Travels to other cities frequently.
- Uses terms common to the commercial sex industry.
- Friends with older females.
To combat this modern-day slavery, DHS launched The Blue Campaign, a unique initiative to coordinate and enhance efforts to address human trafficking. The campaign name references the global anti-human trafficking symbols the Blue Heart and the Blue Blindfold, as well as the "thin blue line" of law enforcement. The Blue Campaign is organized around the "three Ps" of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000: Prevention, Protection, and Prosecution.