Columbus Africentric Early College Host Human Trafficking Workshop
October 8, 2019 -- It’s an important topic that often gets ignored, but Tuesday at Columbus Africentric Early College K12 8th and 10th grade female students learned about the frightening reality on human trafficking.
The Links, Incorporated Twin Rivers Ohio Chapter along with local organizations, Grace Haven House, Reaching for the Shining Starz and The Freeman House, working to combat human trafficking spoke on what is sometimes know as a “hidden problem” right here in Columbus.
“At the age of 13-years-old I was being coerced. What coerced means is that a man was giving me his money. 13-years-old, I was coming in the house with racks,” said Barbara Freeman, Founder of the Freeman House.
Speakers Barbara Freeman and Stephanie Rollins, both victims and survivors of human sex trafficking shared their real and raw story with student.
“I’m a 30-year survivor or human trafficking,” said Stephanie Rollins, Education Specialist at Grace Haven House. “I was trafficked at 12, I was considered a habitual compulsive run away. I was groomed, I thought he really loved me.”
Human trafficking is modern-day slavery and involves using force, fraud, or coercion to compel a person to provide labor or engage in commercial sex acts.
More than 500,000 human trafficking cases – most involving sex traffic female victims – were reported in the United States last year.
According to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, Ohio ranked fourth in human trafficking in the country, behind Florida, California and Texas.
“I was scared honestly when I was hearing their stories, it was like wow it happens in Columbus,” said 10th grader, Mikea Truss.
Mikea Truss and Maryauna Lemley are both 10th-graders at CAEC and apart of the group Any Girl Can. An organization that encourages young women to have big dreams and pursue them.
Both girls agree that this is a conversation that all students can benefit from.
“It can happen at anytime, to any body. You never know when it’s going to happen or who it’s going to happen to. The younger you talk to [teenagers] about it the more prepared they will be along the way,” said Maryauna.
While human trafficking occurs nationwide and to people of all socioeconomic levels, runaway and homeless youth are among the vulnerable, according to the National Human Trafficking Hotline.
The 2018 Ohio Attorney Generals Office Human Trafficking Annual Report says local law enforcement identified 400 human trafficking cases last year. Out of those case 199 were potential victims. Female victims were the most commonly identified human trafficked victims. 43 of which were 17-years-old and younger.
“The only time that I have heard about it was my freshman year. I knew it was serious, but I’ve never heard the stories from actual sex traffic victims. It was like, wow you all really went through this. Now they are here telling us about it,” said Mikea. “I feel like other females in lower grades than me should know about this too. They should keep learning about it as they grow up.”
The Human Trafficking in America’s Schools: A 2015 guide from the Department of Education, gives high school officials strategies to build awareness of human trafficking.
If you believe you may have information about a trafficking situation call the National Human Trafficking Hotline toll-free at 1-888-373-7888.
Anti-Trafficking Hotline Advocates are available 24/7 to take reports of potential human trafficking.
Text the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 233733.
Chat the national Human Trafficking Hotline via www.humantraffickinghotline.org/chat