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National Human Trafficking Awareness Day: Local resources and support services in Pa.

Jan. 11 recognizes National Human Trafficking Awareness Day.

PENNSYLVANIA, USA — Editor's note: The above video is from Dec. 12, 2021.

Human trafficking is an ongoing issue that occurs in every state, including right here in Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania ranks ninth in the nation for most reported cases of human trafficking, with 221 human trafficking cases reported in 2020, according to the National Human Trafficking Hotline.

Human trafficking is defined by the Pennsylvania Courts as a form of human rights abuse where individuals profit from the exploitation of others through force, fraud or coercion to manipulate victims into engaging in acts of sex or labor services. 

COVID-19 has only increased human trafficking vulnerability, due to people frequently isolating and spending time online, according to Pennsylvania Courts. 

There are multiple non-profits and campaigns working to educate the public to recognize signs of human trafficking and provide resources to those who have been victimized.

Here are some local organizations and services provided in Pennsylvania to help prevent the spread of this illegal practice.

The Blue Campaign

Blue is internationally recognized as the universal color for human trafficking prevention. As such, several organizations such as PennDOT and Homeland Security promote the Blue Campaign's social media campaign, #WearBlueDay.

The Blue Campaign works closely with the DHS Center for Countering Human Trafficking to develop awareness trainings and educational resources to combat victimization among vulnerable populations, such as children.

PennDOT strives to train their employees on how to recognize the signs of human trafficking and properly report it to authorities. So far, PennDOT has trained 564 drivers license and welcome center employees and nearly 15,000 transit agency employees in human trafficking awareness, according to PennDOT.

Truckers Against Trafficking

Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) is a non-profit organization created to equip and inform members of the bus, trucking, and energy industries on how they can help tackle human trafficking.

TAT offers a variety of educational resources to its members and the general public, including the Freedom Driver Project, a mobile exhibit that portrays the reality of human trafficking and how the trucking industry is working to limit this illegal activity.

They also have a Driving Freedom Podcast where listeners can hear first hand experiences of officials who have worked human trafficking cases and survivors stories on how they're copping from their experiences.

For those looking to learn more about how the trucking industry is actively working to combat human trafficking, TAT and the American Trucking Associations will be holding a virtual webinar today at 2 p.m. 

Interested participants can register on the American Trucking Associations website.

Tomorrow! Join TAT and the American Trucking Associations at 2pm ET to learn more about how professional drivers can...

Posted by Truckers Against Trafficking on Monday, January 10, 2022

Pa. Courts Awareness Campaign

The Pennsylvania Courts launched an awareness campaign on Jan. 10 to educate Pennsylvanians on the many forms of human trafficking and the resources available to victims.

According to the Pa. Courts, "anyone under age 18 who exchanges sex for something of value are human-trafficking victims, regardless of whether force, fraud or coercion are involved."

The most wide spread belief associated with human trafficking is that it always involves kidnapping or the use of force, when in reality most victims are tricked, manipulated, or threatened into providing commercial sex or explicative labor, stated the Pa. Courts. 

The Pa. Courts has several comprehensive lists of signs of labor and sex trafficking that the public can look out for, along with resources for reporting sites of human trafficking on their website at: https://www.pacourts.us/learn/human-trafficking.

Lancaster District Attorney's Task Force

The Lancaster County District Attorney's Office announced today that they are launching their own Human Trafficking Task Force, with a mission to combat human trafficking in Lancaster county through investigation and prosecution of cases, and spreading awareness through education and outreach.

“Fighting human trafficking from a law enforcement perspective requires a proactive approach,” Lancaster County District Attorney Heather Adams said. “The collaboration announced today among law enforcement is key to any human trafficking investigation but equally as important are the partnerships and commitment from the victim service providers because the reality is that human trafficking is a victim-based crime.”

The Lancaster County District Attorney's Office has partnered with local, county, state and federal government with private sector and non-profit organizations to provide victims with access to supportive services.

Anyone who would like to submit a tip of suspicious activity believed to be human trafficking can do so on the Lancaster County District Attorney's Office website

On this National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, our office announces the launch of the Lancaster County District...

Posted by Lancaster County District Attorney's Office on Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Local Organizations

Greenlight Operation is an anti-human trafficking organization first established in May of 2018 to prevent sexual exploitation and human trafficking through education and spending awareness.

Greenlight Operation is currently holding several human trafficking seminars through the rest of Jan. into Feb. to build community connections, and unite anti-human trafficking organizations. 

Their first upcoming seminar is this Sat. at 9 a.m. at The Storehouse Community Church, located at 3845 Buchanan Trail W. Greencastle, PA 17225.

Lancaster County adopted The Campaign Against Sexual Exploitation (CASE), a national campaign created by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) to educate communities on sexual victimization of minors.

The County has since created a task force to help raise awareness continue to educate locals on issues relating to human trafficking.

Their website includes a list of resources, including free online training provided by the Pa. Department of Human Services, which can be found on their website.

Peace Promise located in Mechanicsburg, was originally founded in 2008 as an all volunteer, grassroots organization that offers services in the Harrisburg region to those in need. 

Peace Promise offers individual and customized care plans to victims to establish meaningful employment, healthy relationships, and self-care to help in the recovery process. The organization's goal is to become "somebody" to those who have nobody.

In an effort to promote awareness, the organization regularly speaks at schools, universities, churches, and to community groups.

If someone you know is a victim to human trafficking, you can call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 or text the hotline at 233733.

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