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Identifying human trafficking victims in Cincinnati

VT human trafficking task force

Healthcare workers, children's services employees and law enforcement personnel are trying to determine how many Cincinnati children are victims of human trafficking. The local numbers are unclear. State officials say every year between 1,000 and more than 3,000 young girls fall victim.

Identifying the signs of human trafficking can be difficult. Dr. Bob Shapiro, Director of the Child Abuse team at Cincinnati Children's Mayerson Center lists some of them.

  • sexual transmitted infections
  • injuries
  • drug addiction
  • having an older male companion
  • sexual abuse
  • runaway behavior
  • dropping out of school

Mayerson now has more money to train workers to look for those signs. The Ohio Department of Family Services is giving 26 children's advocacy centers more than $500,000 in funding.

Shapiro doesn't know how many girls fall victim here and says the state number of 1,000 to more than 3,000 victims may be inaccurate. It was back in February that Ohio declared war on human trafficking. Just weeks later somebody in Toledo reported one case. Then in June that 17 year old and eventually her 16 year old friend, both from Louisville were freed. Director of the Ohio Department of Public Safety John Born says a truck driver had abducted them and taken them to Michigan for prostitution. "Because of the efforts, collaborative efforts that took place, two young girls have a chance of recovery and that truck driver is now serving a prison term."

Ohio says the most common age of young girls to become victim of human trafficking is 13.

With more than 30 years of journalism experience in the Greater Cincinnati market, Ann Thompson brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her reporting. She has reported for WKRC, WCKY, WHIO-TV, Metro Networks and CBS/ABC Radio. Her work has been recognized by the Associated Press and the Society of Professional Journalists. In 2019 and 2011 A-P named her “Best Reporter” for large market radio in Ohio. She has won awards from the Association of Women in Communications and the Alliance for Women in Media. Ann reports regularly on science and technology in Focus on Technology.