FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – Governor Andy Beshear invited state leaders, advocates and survivors to the Capitol rotunda Tuesday to recognize Human Trafficking Awareness Month.
“In Kentucky, everyone should be safe and our communities should be free of the hideous crime of human trafficking,” Beshear said. “As attorney general, I was honored to work with so many passionate advocates and survivors to help fight trafficking, and as governor I commit to do the same. We will not stop until we end trafficking and we must all work together to do so.”
The Samaritan Women’s traveling Encounter Exhibit was one of the human trafficking awareness and prevention groups in Frankfort Tuesday. The exhibit includes facts and statistics about sex trafficking in America, in Kentucky specifically, and a real-life story of the recruitment of a teen into the world of exploitation and trafficking.
“Human trafficking victims remain enslaved because this crime thrives in secrecy and silence,” said Jeanne L. Allert, founder and executive director of The Samaritan Women. “We need public awareness to help dismantle that system of oppression, increase victim identification and improve referral to services. The Samaritan Women is honored to partner with the governor’s efforts to bring about an end to this evil trade, in Kentucky and across our nation.”
Dr. Jennifer Middleton, a University of Louisville associate professor of social work who directs the university’s Human Trafficking Research Initiative, discussed the results of Project PIVOT (Prevention and Intervention for Victims of Trafficking).
The research reviewed 698 reported cases of child trafficking over a 5-year period, between 2013 and 2018. Middleton says the review was done primarily to answer the question of what happened to those cases in the child welfare system. Among the findings:
- A majority of the cases involved family-controlled trafficking, meaning a family member, most often a parent or primary caretaker, gave offenders sexual access to the child/children in exchange for money, drugs or something else of value.
- Children trafficked by family members were younger and more likely to have multiple perpetrators than those trafficked by non-family members.
- Younger children, children living in rural areas, and children with previous child welfare involvement were also more likely to have multiple perpetrators.
- The involvement of drugs in child trafficking cases (e.g., selling a child for drugs) increased significantly during the 5-year period and these cases were more likely to involve multiple perpetrators.
Beshear says the results of Project PIVOT will be used to address gaps, systemic issues and opportunities for enhanced education, training and policy development regarding child trafficking in Kentucky.
In honor of Human Trafficking Awareness Month, Beshear signed a proclamation during the event Tuesday.
Beshear wants to remind Kentuckians of the legal duty to report suspicions of children involved in the commercial sex trade to the Department for Community Based Services at 1-877-KYSAFE1 and to local law enforcement. Other concerns about possible trafficking activities should be reported to the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.
To learn more about the signs of human trafficking click here.