The Ugly Truth

The Ugly Truth

Florida had the third-highest rate of human trafficking cases reported across the country in 2019. According to the Human Trafficking Hotline, 896 cases were reported.

Last year’s 896 reports of human trafficking led to the identification of more than 600 trafficking businesses. That’s an increase from 2018 when the state had 760 reports of human trafficking.

Since 2007, Florida has had more than 4,600 reported cases of human trafficking, leading law enforcement to more than 12,400 victims across the state.

The problem continues to plague Florida as well as the rest of the country.

More than 22,000 victims were identified by the NHTH in 2019. Nearly 5,000 survived labor trafficking and an alarming 14,597 survived sex trafficking.

Many of those victims were teenagers.

According to a study of the U.S. Department of Justice human trafficking task force cases, 83 percent of sex trafficking victims identified in the United States were U.S. citizens.

The same study also found that the average age that a trafficked victim is first used for commercial sex is between 12 and 14 years old. Some victims are as young as 9 years old.

According to the Florida Dream Center, which provides aftercare for human trafficking victims, the life expectancy for a child taken into sex trafficking is only seven years from the date of capture.

South Florida Anti-Trafficking Resources
 
Thanks to local organizations like Kristi House Children’s Advocacy Center work is being done to bring an end to child sexual exploitation.
Kristi House Children’s Advocacy Center has specialized in treating child sexual abuse for 25 years and has specifically worked with child victims of sexual exploitation since 2007, when Project GOLD was established to bring the legal and provider community together around the issue of child sex trafficking.
The Project GOLD Drop In Center uses a strengths-based, survivor-led approach to provide health, social and legal services linkages, mental health support and educational enrichment to sexually exploited girls.

Project GOLD Drop In Center

The Drop In Center is home to Project GOLD, a membership organization for girls who have been exposed to commercial sexual exploitation. The Center welcomes all sexually exploited girls, regardless of their current residential placement. It is a place where girls are empowered to find their strengths in a non-judging, healing environment.

Programming is based on the Victim, Survivor, Leader model of G.E.M.S. widely regarded as the forerunner in helping girls and young women escape sexual exploitation. Project GOLD is shaped and directed by survivor input, reflected in the program name created by founding clients.

The Drop In Center provides a home-like setting for engagement and delivery of restorative services, including case management, therapy, advocacy, transportation, educational and recreational enrichment. It provides an alternative to a dangerous life of abuse and exploitation.

Experience has demonstrated that in addition to wrap-around services, positive adults and a non-judgmental, trauma-informed, survivor-focused approach, girls need vocational training, job skills and career planning help them find paths to futures not involving trafficking.  Project Gold was awarded the 2020 Program of the Year by The Children’s Trust.

MISCONCEPTION: Sensational, popular action films like Taken or viral conspiracies like Wayfair are accurate depictions of how sex trafficking occurs.

REALITY: Most sex traffickers prefer to develop relationships with their targets—sometimes virtually and sometimes in-person—in order to methodically groom and traffic them. Child sex trafficking often involves a person who knew the child or even a family member of the child.

MISCONCEPTION: “This could never happen to my child” or, “that would never happen in this neighborhood”.

REALITY: While it’s true that most victims of child sex trafficking are children of color or come from backgrounds of poverty or abuse, it is also absolutely true that trafficking can happen in any community, to children from stable home environments.

MISCONCEPTION: Pornography and prostitution have nothing to do with sex trafficking.

REALITY: Sex trafficking only exists because of the demand for paid sex.
                                                                                                           How You Can Help
Children and adults can be victims of human trafficking.  “If you see something, say something.”  If you have information regarding suspected Human trafficking of a child in Florida contact: Florida Abuse Hotline 1-800-96-ABUSE (1-800-962-2873).  If you have information regarding suspected Human Trafficking of an adult anywhere in the United States or of a child outside of Florida please contact: National Human Trafficking Resource Center 1-888-373-7888.  Text HELP to 233733 (BEFREE):  To get help for victims and Survivors of human trafficking or to connect with local services.  Visit the National Human Trafficking Hotline online at https://humantraffickinghotline.org.

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