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DCF Recognizes Human Trafficking Awareness Month, Says Increase in Calls Reporting Human Trafficking Points Way to Success

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by Florida Department of Children and Families | Jan 13, 2015

For Immediate Release: January 13, 2015

TALLAHASSEE, FL – Calls reporting suspected human trafficking in Florida have doubled since 2010, a reflection of successful awareness and education efforts that are being recognized and applauded during Human Trafficking Awareness Month.

“While the horror of human trafficking is unspeakable, talking about it is our only hope for eradicating it,” said Mike Carroll, Secretary of the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF), which houses the Florida Abuse Hotline and Florida’s Human Trafficking Coordinator. “Very few people are unaware of what human trafficking is, which was not true four years ago, and that is a sure sign of the effectiveness of our partnerships.”

In fiscal year 2011, the Florida Abuse Hotline received 480 calls regarding human trafficking. In the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2014, the Hotline received 978 calls. More than half of the calls came from central and southeast Florida.

Multiple local, statewide and national partnerships, including state agencies, Community-Based Care lead agencies, service providers, law enforcement, prosecutors, the judiciary and concerned citizens, are driving the fight against human trafficking in Florida.

DCF also works closely with its Community-Based Care partners and now more than 250 case managers and child protective investigators have special certification in human trafficking. In addition, a Department of Children and Families and Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) Statewide Tools workgroup has developed a Human Trafficking Screening Instrument that will help child welfare professionals and DJJ staff identify victims of human trafficking so appropriate services can be provided. Training on the new tool is under way.

DCF tracks human trafficking by three primary categories: sexual exploitation by a non-caregiver, such as an adult entertainment club or escort service; sexual exploitation by a parent, guardian or caregiver; and labor trafficking, also referred to as slavery or servitude.

 Heart-wrenching examples of how children are used in sex trafficking include:

  • A minor trading a sex act with an adult in exchange for a place to sleep.
  • A pimp prostituting out an adolescent.
  • A father trading his underage daughter for crack.
  • A mother allowing her landlord to have sex with her child as rent payment.
  • A fifteen year old trading a sex act with an adult for money
  • A nightclub owner providing shelter and food for minors in exchange for exotic dancing.

The Florida Legislature last year provided resources to enhance screening and assessment of safe houses and therapeutic foster homes and created the Statewide Council on Human Trafficking, on which Secretary Carroll serves as vice chairman.

Human Trafficking Awareness Month is recognized every January.

Media Contact: Michelle Glady, DCF Press Secretary, 850-717-4450

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