The following letter to the editor was authored by Justice for Kids Partner Justin Grosz:
Human Trafficking is an incredibly important issue that demands our attention. January is National Human Trafficking Prevention Month; and as it comes to a close, we must continue to bring our awareness to this issue and how we can each do our part to prevent human trafficking. There are many misconceptions when it comes to human trafficking. While most think these events mostly take place abroad, this is a grave domestic issue. In fact, Florida ranks 3rd in the nation in terms of the number of calls to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, the vast majority of which involve the commercial sexual exploitation of minors. The average age that a trafficked victim is first used for commercial sex is between just 12-14 years old. These children are vulnerable and often lured into terrifying situations which they lack the resources to extricate themselves from.
As a community, we can all play a role when it comes to raising awareness and prevention. Whether it is paying closer attention to your surroundings, being observant of body language and behaviors (i.e., young girls checking into hotels with no luggage, wearing the same clothing day after day, having multiple visitors at the same room…), to downloading an app, like TraffickCam. TraffickCam allows hotel guests to upload photos of their hotel rooms to their database, which investigators can use to search for other images taken in the location (by traffickers) which may have been used to advertise the victim for commercial sex.
Raising awareness around human trafficking has the power to save thousands of children who have fallen victim to this horrific reality.