January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month
TALLAHASSEE, Fla.—January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month and in recognition of the month, Attorney General Pam Bondi is sharing tips and resources about how to identify and protect potential human trafficking victims. The National Human Trafficking Resource Center estimates that more than 20 million people are enslaved worldwide, and Florida ranks third in the nation in the number of calls to the National Human Trafficking hotline.
“Human trafficking is modern-day slavery, and we must do everything in our power to protect the victims of this horrific crime and bring to justice the monsters who prey on them,” said Attorney General Bondi. “Floridians can help stop human trafficking by knowing what to look for and who to contact to report suspected cases.”
Floridians can learn about human trafficking by visiting PolarisProject.org. Specific human trafficking awareness tips individually geared toward children, parents, teachers, business owners, emergency medical professionals and more are available on MyFloridaLegal.com.
Some signs indicating someone could be the victim of human trafficking include:
· Exhibits abnormal behavior or poor mental health; · Is fearful, anxious, depressed, submissive, tense, nervous or paranoid; · Exhibits unusually fearful or anxious behavior after bringing up law enforcement; · Avoids eye contact; · Is in poor physical health; · Has few or no personal possessions; · Is not in control of his or her own money, no financial records, or bank account; · Is not in control of his or her own identification documents, such as ID or passport; and · Is not allowed or able to speak for themselves.
Suspected cases of trafficking should be reported to local law enforcement immediately. After taking office in 2011, Attorney General Bondi made eradicating human trafficking a top priority. In 2012, she worked with lawmakers on legislation making it easier for all prosecutors in the state to pursue human trafficking cases. Since the law went into effect, the number of human trafficking investigations throughout Florida has increased. The legislation also gave the Attorney General’s Office of Statewide Prosecution jurisdiction over multi-judicial circuit human trafficking cases allowing the office to pursue some of the largest human trafficking cases in state court history. The Office of Statewide Prosecution currently has nine filed human trafficking cases involving 55 defendants, with several more ongoing investigations targeting 66 individuals in Florida. Additionally, Attorney General Bondi worked with Florida’s legislative leaders to create the Statewide Council on Human Trafficking. The 15-member council is building on existing state and local partnerships working to combat human trafficking. Members include law enforcement officers, prosecutors, legislators, as well as experts in the fields of health, education and social services. As chair of the Council, Attorney General Bondi is dedicated to the mission of helping human trafficking victims heal by enhancing the care options and resources available.