Hillsborough County Commission aims to curb sex trafficking

04/03/13 Janelle Irwin
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Hillsborough County Commissioners unanimously approved a measure aimed at reducing sex trafficking. During a meeting Wednesday, Commissioner Sandra Murman got the ball rolling on an educational process that would inform the public about what to look for and eventually expand programs that help victims of human trafficking.

“Children’s Services is conducting trainings right now – special trainings for staff on human trafficking and we have really started this – I’ve been working on this about three or four months and they’re working with Eckerd and DCF on strategies relating to helping trafficking victims. So, we are a safe house and we do currently serve victims at Lake [Magdalene] and we can expand that even further.”

Murman is referring to The Children in Need of Services program at the county’s Lake Magdalene facility. She admitted that increasing sex trafficking investigations can be costly, but that there are other ways to reduce it and help victims. Dottie Groover-Skipper is with the Hillsborough County Commission on the Status of Women.

“Once a child is rescued from sex trafficking, there is little to no appropriate, long-term safe houses in which to house these children. These children need long-term, specialized care, not to serve back in detention centers or go back to foster care where they can easily recruit more children. They need long-term, safe haven homes.”

Groover-Skipper added that victims are often recruited as runaways or from foster care and range in age from infants to teenagers.

“As you can imagine, this modern day slavery of being forced to engage in sexual acts with up to 15 men a night causes significant physical, mental and emotional trauma.”

She said Hillsborough County is a hot spot for human sex trafficking because of its high tourism and access to adult entertainment.

“This is our community. These are our children. They need our protection.”

The commission also approved having county staff work with Hillsborough TV to put together some public service announcements.

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