It seems like a word that belongs to another place or even another time, but human trafficking is indeed happening in our very back yards. Maybe Las Vegas seems more likely, but even though Cincinnati ranks only 65th in US population, a year ago, Cincinnati.com reported that Ohio was "among worst for sex trafficking." Northern Kentucky may seem to have more small-town charm, but as recently as May of this year, a NKY man was accused of running a human trafficking ring out of Kenton County, Kentucky.
It is a global problem. Human trafficking exists all over and occurs, in part, because it is such a huge revenue generator. Mary Richie of the Women's Crisis Center put it bluntly in this Fox19 interview. "You can sell a line of coke once," Richie says, "You can sell a person over and over and over again."
But it is also a local problem: In 2015, Ohio reported 289 cases of human trafficking. The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, overlooking the Ohio River and Northern Kentucky, points out that the area faces many unique challenges when it comes to modern-day slavery in the Tri-State area: "Cincinnati abuts Kentucky and Indiana, allowing traffickers to easily move across state and city borders where the laws and regulations on human trafficking differ."
But what, you may wonder, can you do about it?
Many people may walk through your doors, and if you work in a public library, you know that all kinds of people end up in your public building. Those of you that work in schools may have victims in your classrooms, and not just in high schools, either. Children make up 30% of US trafficking victims.
And, of course, you may encounter victims of human trafficking at any time as a citizen in your community.
If you suspect trafficking, there are a number of hotlines you can call. The National Human Trafficking Resource Center can be contacted at 1-888-3737-888. The Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force has a number of resources, including these excellent posters and flyers you could place in your library. Kentucky residents can check out Rescue and Restore Kentucky. And locally, you can check out End Slavery Cincinnati.
And Bhumika Patel of End Slavery Cincinnati will be joining us on October 25th for a web talk on how library staff can help, recognize and report victims of human trafficking. Supporting members (as well as members of SERLS, NORWELD and NEO) are invited to join us for FREE, employees of institutions in our geographic service area are welcome to join us for a price of $25, and all others can attend for $50.
We hope that you can join us to learn more about this vital topic.
~ Cassondra Vick, MLIS
Technology Educator, SWON Libraries