Bringing awareness to human trafficking


By Gary Budzak - [email protected]



January is National Human Trafficking Prevention Month, and people were asked to wear blue today to help bring awareness to this crime.

The U.S. State Department said more than 27.6 million adults and children are being subjected to human trafficking around the world, including all 50 states, in rural and urban areas alike. It is modern-day slavery.

“Human trafficking, also known as trafficking in persons, includes both forced labor and sex trafficking,” the State Department said on its website. “It not only represents a threat to international peace and security but also undermines the rule of law, robs millions of their dignity and freedom, enriches transnational criminals and terrorists, and threatens public safety and national security everywhere… Traffickers often take advantage of instability caused by natural disasters, conflict, or a pandemic to exploit others.”

The State Department has a helpful link, 20 ways you can help fight human trafficking, on its website at www.state.gov.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) currently has a Blue Campaign underway.

“Participating is simple, just follow these easy steps: Wear something blue — the international color of human trafficking awareness — then take a photo and post it on social media using the hashtag #WearBlueDay,” the DHS website said. “Wearing blue on January 11, 2023, is proof that a little gesture can go a long way. Do your part this #WearBlueDay to support human trafficking lived experience experts and empower your community to learn more about identifying and reporting this heinous crime.”

Last month, President Biden signed the “Countering Human Trafficking Act of 2022,” which gives DHS more funding and staff to combat human trafficking.

“It is happening in Ohio,” the Ohio Department of Transportation said of the crime. “Ohio ranks as one of the top states for number of calls made to the National Human Trafficking Hotline. Ohio also has one of the largest interstate systems in the nation, making it easier for traffickers to transport victims.”

“Programs like Wear Blue Day raise public awareness,” Human Trafficking Officer Malik B. is quoted as saying on ODOT’s Facebook page. “This could lead to more eyes and ears on the street in areas law enforcement wouldn’t normally have immediate access to.”

ODOT said it has undertaken a number of anti-trafficking efforts, including placing the National Human Trafficking Hotline number (1-888-373-7888 or text INFO or HELP to BeFree 233733) in every stall of every restroom and rest area they oversee. The hotline received 50,123 calls or texts in 2021.

The State of Ohio has a Human Trafficking Task Force. “The Task Force is committed to preventing trafficking, serving victims, and supporting a coordinated system to investigate and prosecute human trafficking.”

In 2021, Gov. Mike DeWine expanded the task force to include five new agencies to assist combatting trafficking.

Locally, the United Way of Delaware has a way residents can help in the fight. The Delaware County Against Human Trafficking Coalition was established in 2013. This month it has a downloadable JanKNOWary calendar “of ways to engage, get trained or learn basic facts about human trafficking.”

For more information, visit www.liveuniteddelawarecounty.org and click on the Human Trafficking link under the Take Action tab.

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By Gary Budzak

[email protected]

Assistant Editor Gary Budzak covers the eastern half of Delaware County and surrounding areas. He may be reached at the above email address.

Assistant Editor Gary Budzak covers the eastern half of Delaware County and surrounding areas. He may be reached at the above email address.