Human Trafficking
State

Florida Attorney General Unveils Human Trafficking Awareness Initiatives

Every year since 2010, the president has proclaimed January is dedicated to raising awareness about human trafficking. Human trafficking is a dangerous problem nationwide and especially prevalent in Florida. 

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody utilized National Human Trafficking Awareness Month to introduce new programs designed to reduce the occurrence of human trafficking in the state. 

On Jan. 12, Moody announced a new initiative dubbed the 100% Club. The initiative asks for businesses in Florida to agree to have their employees trained to recognize the signs of human trafficking. 

738 cases of human trafficking in Florida were reported to the National Human Trafficking Hotline in 2020, and there have been over 5,000 reported cases since 2007 when the hotline began recording statistics. 

The hope is that the awareness spread by the 100% Club will deter predators in Florida. “Florida is committed to fighting human trafficking, and we will continue to work tenaciously to eradicate this deplorable crime,” Moody told the Florida Political Review. 

Every member of the club will receive a card with reminders of the physical and verbal signs of human trafficking. These include signs of abuse, malnourishment, and working excessively long hours, among other things. 

“I wish we had a tremendous law enforcement presence in every area of our state to watch out and protect citizens, but we need partners in the community,” said Moody. The purpose of the program is to train these companies to act as partners of the police. 

In addition to signs of human trafficking, the cards will also have the new Florida human trafficking number, the very first of its kind. 

Depending on the circumstances surrounding the offense, human traffickers face between 10 years in prison and a life sentence. It is important for cases of human trafficking to be reported so these offenders can be taken into custody. 

The 100% Club appears to be an extension of a project Moody began in 2020 in which she recruited truck drivers in Florida to be trained in recognizing the signs of human trafficking. The Florida Highway Heroes initiative also includes a card with instructions on how to help and what numbers to call if a truck driver notices suspicious behavior. 

Since 2020, the Highway Heroes program has trained 4,600 commercial drivers and 400 Florida Highway Patrol officers. 

According to Moody, businesses have been eager to join these drivers in being trained in human trafficking awareness. “Businesses felt like they were taking tangible steps to be a part of the human trafficking solution for our state,” Moody said. 

Employees of the businesses willing to become involved in the program will be trained through Florida Alliance to End Human Trafficking, a nonprofit organization created by the Florida Legislature. 

The program has been named the 100% Club because each business that joins will have the goal of training 100% of their employees. The goal is to protect possible human trafficking victims and to hopefully get enough people in Florida on board to discourage this crime. 

Florida has several big cities, which can create situations in which victims are especially vulnerable to human traffickers. In 2021, the Super Bowl — an event notorious for attracting crime — was held in Tampa.

In the month leading up to the game, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office conducted “Operation Interception.” Throughout the duration of the operation, officers were able to arrest 71 potential human traffickers who were soliciting or entering a place for prostitution. 

Law enforcement will be able to make even more arrests with the help of trained and watchful eyes in the community. “Through increased awareness, initiatives, training and more, we have reached countless Floridians to help us stop human trafficking, and we will not relent in our efforts,” Moody told the Florida Political Review. 

On Jan. 18, Moody announced at a press conference in Orlando that she was launching the 2022 Online Safety Toolkit. This is a resource that parents and guardians can use to protect their children while they are online. 

The cover of the 2022 Online Safety Toolkit. Screenshot taken from the online version of the toolkit. 

The toolkit offers a list of websites and apps that are potentially dangerous or that allow children to chat with strangers. It also includes options for parents to control and monitor their child’s online presence. 

The Online Safety Toolkit is easily accessible to all parents through the attorney general’s website, and the information within is easily digestible for parents and guardians. 

January was National Human Trafficking Prevention Month, and Moody has taken advantage of the designation to make advancements toward what she sees as spreading awareness of the commonality and signs of human trafficking to members of the community who are in positions to help. 

Check out other recent articles from Florida Political Review here.

Featured Image: Unmodified image by sammisreachers used under a Creative Commons License. (https://bit.ly/34gVCbg)

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