As more human trafficking operations are uncovered in Florida, law enforcement agencies continue to investigate suspicious activity that leads to operations that help aid in the fight against human trafficking. In Tallahassee, Florida, one case resulted in over 170 arrests for multiple charges, including solicitation and trafficking of a minor, and indicted 19 defendants on federal charges (The United States Department of Justice, 2020). A pivotal moment in investigation “Stolen Innocence” came when provocative and revealing pictures of a minor were posted on a website that advertised sex for money (The United States Department of Justice, 2020). The Tallahassee Police Department, Leon County Sheriff’s Office, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the United States Marshal Service, and Homeland Security Investigations conducted this investigation with great resulting in multiple state and federal charges in this operation (The United States Department of Justice, 2020).
These types of investigations continue to protect the innocent of society and detain those who would subject others to this kind of brutality. It is crucial to educate the public as to how vulnerable our citizens can be to traffickers and the signs that might betray such trafficking. Minors are frequently the victims of human trafficking, often a form of manipulation and coercion that encourages adolescents to perform forced labor or sex acts. As millions a year are trafficked throughout the world, the more informed the public is about the dangers of human trafficking, the greater the possibility of reducing these sorts of victimizations.
Due to the frequency with which our children are subjected to this cruel treatment, it is pertinent to inform citizens that the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) and the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice (Human Trafficking Intervention Initiatives | Florida Department of Juvenile Justice (state.fl.us) provide supportive services to youth who have been victims of trafficking or sexual exploitation. A key component of OJJDP is the provision of tools to assist court personnel in understanding trafficking dynamics (Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, n.d.). As part of the program, they are also taught how to identify possible victims of child trafficking on the job. The Office of Justice and Human Rights Development supports organizations such as the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) that assist in the search for missing children and trafficking victims (Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, n.d.). NCMEC operates a Missing Children Hotline and Cyber Tipline that uses technology to bring attention to missing children. A valuable tool for finding victims of human trafficking is social media. Because of this, it is important to be able to identify the signs of a victim and to be alert to suspicious activity (Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, n.d.).
Considering the potential scope of human trafficking operations happening across the country, it is important to educate citizens on how to combat human trafficking. The U.S. Department of State has presented effective methods that will aid in the fight against human trafficking. At a more regional level, the Florida Office of the Attorney General (Florida Attorney General – What is Human Trafficking? (myfloridalegal.com) also provides information on recognition and response to suspected human trafficking. Through the National Human Trafficking Hotline and related training, suspicious activity can be identified and investigated more easily (U.S. Department of State, 2021).
Volunteering and supporting anti-trafficking organizations can spread awareness of the dangers day-to-day living can present. Using social media as a platform to spread approved information and awareness encourages more to become involved. Resources are also available for presenting opportunities for schools to enter human trafficking awareness into their curriculum (U.S. Department of State, 2021). To further combat trafficking operations, organizations that raise awareness on human trafficking and how to combat it are encouraged (U.S. Department of State, 2021). By applying these methods, citizens can combat future trafficking operations and bring more awareness to this rising issue.
Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. (n.d.). Human trafficking resources. Retrieved November 23, 2021, from https://ojjdp.ojp.gov/programs/human-trafficking-resources.
The United States Department of Justice. (2020, November 17). More than 170 charged following a large-scale human trafficking investigation. Retrieved November 21, 2021, from https://www.justice.gov/usao-ndfl/pr/more-170-charged-following-large-scale-human-trafficking-investigation.
U.S. Department of State. (2021, January 11). 20 ways you can help fight human trafficking – united states department of state. U.S. Department of State. Retrieved November 22, 2021, from https://www.state.gov/20-ways-you-can-help-fight-human-trafficking/.