Progress in Toledo, Ohio: Third Largest City for Child Trafficking
Ohio Facts on Child Exploitation
Lieutenant Jerad Sutton of the Ohio State Highway Patrol reported the following facts on January 12, 2017.
- A large volume of vehicle traffic flows across the northern border of Ohio, especially on Interstate Highway 80. This is an opportunity for trafficking in people.
- Ohio overall is the fifth largest state for trafficking individuals in the USA.
- The largest demographic of trafficked individuals in Ohio is 21 to 30 years old. The second largest cohort is 16 to 17 years old, and the third largest group is 13 to 15 years old.
- At least 4,000 calls were made to Ohio's trafficking hotline in 2016.
- The Ohio State Highway Patrol made stopping human trafficking a priority in 2017.
According to the International Labor Force, the money illegally acquired through human trafficking is estimated to be more than $35 billion.— Ohio Department of Health 10/2016
Report Infractions to the Following Number
If you think you have seen a victim of human sex trafficking - child or adult, even an infant - contact the following organization anytime toll free, 24 hours a day.
National Human Trafficking Resource Center: 1-888-373-7888
In cases of immediate life-or-death emergency, call 911.
Fast Progress From 2016 - 2019
A new organization in Central Ohio began operations in 2012 to stop and prevent child exploitation and trafficking. Its name is OneVOICE4Freedom and is led by its founder, Ms. Nicole Bromley.
This dedicated activist teaches classes to survivors of child abuse and trafficking and their families, as well as conducting support groups. Her company is an outgrowth of OneVoice, founded in 2003 to help the targets of child abuse.
Since 2016, I have heard increasing numbers of reports about Nicole's work internationally, while her group's efforts in the USA have spread quickly since 2013. According to her website, she speaks at community organizations, churches, universities, schools, and prisons to build awareness that helps to stop trafficking before it begins.
Meanwhile, she offers support to those working on the streets and coming out of that forced work into safe houses, in the form of large cloth bags filled with such things as toiletries and restaurant gift cards; makeovers; and hot meals. OneVOICE4Freedom often serves runaways and homeless youth, which are at-risk for exploitation.
The Ohio Investigative Unit Makes Progress
In 2017 and 2018, our state more fully engages and equiped law enforcement personnel to find targets of human exploitation and trafficking and provide them with practical help.
The-Governor John Kasich and a previous safety director, John Born, initiated coalitions in every part of Ohio by soliciting and gain help from the Ohio Investigative Unit division of plainclothes officers in the Ohio State Highway Patrol.
Ohio's Continued Progress to 2016
During 2014, Forbes Magazine and Sperling's Best Places named Toledo, Ohio as the Fourth Top City of Opportunity in America, especially through efforts of local government and the University of Toledo.
In 2016, Judge Paul M. Herbert in Columbus, Ohio felt that The Ohio State University can be a leader in the study to end human trafficking, especially through a specialized office established on the Columbus main campus.
The beginnings of such an office were initiated at the OSU Extension office in June 2016).
In America over 100,000 children are exploited and Ohio is still sited as a major hub of this activity, despite anti-trafficking progress in Toledo, a gateway city.
In 2012, 2014 and 2018, Ohio passed laws to significantly strengthen its legal framework to combat human trafficking through increased penalties for offenders and increased legal protections for victims.— Task Force Report 2019
Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force Coalitions
As of April, 2019 Ohio supports at least 22 coalitions actively working against exploitation and trafficking around the state.
A five-county coalition around Toledo is called the Lucas County Human Trafficking Coalition in the counties of Lucas (home of Toledo), Wood, Ottawa, Sandusky (home of Cedar Point), and Seneca. Like many of the coalitions, it advertises help through brochures distributed in public places, Facebook, community outreach projects, radio broadcasts, walk-ins, and others.
Summary Report, January 2019
Data for years 2014 to 2017 was analyzed and reported by the task force overall in January 2019. The full report is available here. A table with victim numbers may look inflated, but this is because some individuals were recognized by more than one helping agency.
Since this report was released, a large project that included local, state, and federal agencies an Asian community group during 2017 and 2018 was added to find foreign nationals trafficked in Ohio. Through a US Health and Human Services grant, 218 such individuals from 2014 to 2017 had already been recorded and helped. We await new information from the larger project at this time.
The Future of Progress
The state task force involves many government agencies within Ohio and the federal government, as well as community organizations, individuals, interested businesses that include non-profits like Nicole Bromley's, Truckers Against Trafficking, and others.
The overall program is far reaching and more effective every month; and current Governor Mike DeWine supports it fully.
Community Prevention Programs
The Vineyard Movement
The Vineyard Church Movement is involved in social justice concerns, including the exploitation of children and adults trafficked into all kinds of unpaid labor, not only sex-related.
The national headquarters for this church movement is Vineyard.org. In Central Ohio, an extensive program to help trafficking victims includes helping place individuals into counseling, safe dwellings, education and job placement services, and even material assistance.
During 2013, data suggested that Toledo already enjoyed some success in combating the trafficking problem. An article in the Toledo Blade titles Fedor renews push to toughen trafficking laws shows how Representative Teresa Fedor (D., Toledo) struggled with “the senators” when she suggested legislation to raise the age of consent to become a prostitute to 18. She was finally successful.
Rock City Church Programs
Rock City meets on several campuses and helps families and individuals in need, especially the homeless, single parents, and victims of trafficking. Pastor Chad Fisher and his family came to Central Ohio from Toledo and is active in anti-trafficking work, often partnering with the Dream Center in downtown Columbus.
Rock City reports that a trafficking corridor that especially needs attention extends from Columbus, north to Toledo and farther on to the Detroit/Windsor. The Ohio Turnpike is also a route along which victims can be kidnapped.
Grace Haven House
GraceHavenHouse.org is the first group in the Ohio to provide a group home for children and youth taken out of the human trafficking system. Previous to this, they had to be sent to jail by law.
Former Governor John Kasich signed legislation to set up obligatory cooperation of state and local agencies and organizations to allow them to use their resources together for the good of trafficking victims and this includes Grace Haven.
Map of I-80, and I-80/I-90, the Ohio Turnpike
Cleveland crime family has influenced illegal activities in this city in the past.
A large regional mosque at I-75 draws Muslims and women and girls in these families might be at-risk, at least for kidnapping/exploitation.
Traffickers commonly use violence, threats, debt bondage, and other forms of deceit and coercion to compel adults and children into servitude.— OSU Extension, Columbus
Map of the Transport Gateway to Air and Rail Hubs, US and Canadian Highways
Toledo Supplies Las Vegas
Toledo is the third largest gateway city for child sex tourism trafficking in America. Children as young as 6 months old have been sold for exploitation purposes.
Professor Celia Williamson of the University of Toledo chaired a task force for research into Ohio's contribution to the trafficking industry and initial results estimated Toledo to be in fourth place nationally as a gateway city.
At least 1,800 people at any point in time in Ohio are held in trafficking bondage, but the Governor's Task Force is decreasing this number in 2019.
Miami, Florida; Portland Oregon; Las Vegas, Nevada; and Toledo are the top four US gateway cities, but the young female and male Las Vegas victims come mostly from Toledo, pushing it up to third place overall.
Unfortunately, grandmothers that had been trafficked and worked as prostitutes have groomed their own children and grandchildren into the industry. This is third-generation human trafficking that is trapping grandmothers, daughters, and granddaughters as well as some men and boys.
How Anyone Can Help
Since May 1, 2010; people around the nation have been communicating to the US Federal Government that they want to strengthen efforts toward ending child sex trafficking and tourism. They have contacted the government by phone, snail mail, and Internet.
Toledo is the thirds largest gateway city for this human rights crime and we are communicating with state and local leaders in Ohio in an ongoing conversation that seeks to end human rights violations in our state.
Because Toledo is so close to Detroit and large Ontario Province cities, heavy trafficking flows through Toledo to other places, including Las Vegas and overseas. We want it to end.
For the larger effort, you can, if you wish, call, write, or email the US Secretary of State and our US Attorney General to declare your support for strongly enforcing anti-trafficking laws and upholding human rights globally. Our friends from out of the country are emailing Secretary of State Clinton, because she is interested in ending this problem globally, for everyone.
On an individual level, we can remain alert to signs of child sex trafficking and report any signs that we see to the toll free number at the head of this page.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2010 Patty Inglish MS