January 11th marks National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, a day to shine light on an issue that has devastating impacts on communities as close as in our own neighborhoods. In fact, Florida ranks 3rd in the nation for the number of active criminal human trafficking cases, with 367 cases reported to the National Human Trafficking Hotline as of June 30, 2018.
Workers in high turnover and low paying industries such as hospitality and agriculture are often victims of human traffic targeting. In Florida, this is exacerbated by the fact that those industries make up a large portion of our economy and are predominantly staffed by immigrant workers – people who often do not report issues due to not knowing their rights, not speaking English as a first language, from fear of deportation or from lack of access to help.
We are working to help address these issues. Lutheran Services Florida (LSF) has partnered with Hispanic Services Council to reach out Hispanic communities in the Tampa Bay area and educate leaders, families, workers, and business owners about this growing issue.
During this month of awareness, LSF will also provide direct outreach to farm workers in Wimauma, Florida, to help them identify red flags and ensure they know how to report potential human trafficking cases.
The power of knowledge, cooperation and trustworthy relationships are our strongest tools against human trafficking. Anyone can help identify victims. We offer training to anyone from workers in health care, hospitality environments to church leaders, business owners and the general public to help people know the signs and prevent human trafficking.
To learn more or to request a training, contact Gayane Galoyan at firstname.lastname@example.org.