Ohio Recruits Child Advocacy Centers in Fight Against Human Trafficking

The Ohio Network of Children’s Advocacy Centers will receive $523,200 from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services during the next two years to train personnel, including law enforcement, local prosecutors and children services employees, to identify human trafficking and assist child victims, chapter coordinator Amy Deverson Roberts said.

Ohio’s 26 child advocacy centers provide forensic interviews, counseling and sometimes medical examinations to young victims of sexual abuse,

An estimated 1,078 Ohio children are victims of sex trafficking every year, and thousands more are at risk of becoming victims, according to the 2010 Ohio Trafficking in Persons Study.

Some of the money will fund September training on the difference between interviewing sexual assault victims and sex trafficking victims, Roberts said. Children forced into the sex trade might think their pimp loves them as either a parental or boyfriend figure and might not think they are victims but rather willing participants in prostitution, she added. Unlike other victims, those in human trafficking might be juvenile delinquents or runaways, Roberts said.

The remaining funds would be distributed for treatment and interviews at the 26 centers based on their population of children, Roberts said. Counties without child advocacy centers will be linked with nearby facilities or local coalitions so victims across Ohio have access to human trafficking treatment and forensic interview, which could be used in criminal charges, she said.

The centers will focus primarily on sex trafficking victims but would not turn away a victim of labor trafficking, Roberts said. Adults could not receive treatment at the facilities but would be referred to local rescue and restore coalitions.

Learn more at Jessie Balmert’s Coshocton Tribune article: Child advocacy centers become front line in human trafficking help.

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