371: Kudos & Kicks: Reviewing the good, bad and questionable

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Note: HTAP facilitated 5 Proclamations for the Lee County Commission, the City of Sanibel, City of Ft. Myers, City ofBonita Springs, and the Village of Estero by submitting a sample proclamation, working with their staffs to create their proclamations and attending their meetings to accept the proclamations and to answer questions.

Thanks to all of the local governments who were so willing to take on this subject as they have been in the past.  Nola Theiss, Executive Director of HTAP.

Kudos & Kicks: Reviewing the good, bad and questionable

Kudos & Kicks: Reviewing the good, bad and questionable

Kudos

January was designated to raise awareness of the scourge of human trafficking. Southwest Florida is fortunate to have a host of organizations focused on rooting out modern-day slavery.

Florida has many credits to be proud of when it comes to leading the nation, but on the flip side it’s among the states where human trafficking is most prevalent.

Both Collier and Lee county commissions paid tribute this month to regional organizations working to eradicate human and sex-slave trafficking.

In both a kick and a kudo, a Lee County Commission proclamation this week notes “Florida is recognized as one of three states with the highest incidence of human trafficking and also as one of the states which is doing the most to combat this crime in terms of legislation and victims treated.”

Collier commissioners’ proclamation, which honors organizations trying to identify and assist victims, states: “Second only to the illegal drug trade, human trafficking is among the most lucrative crimes worldwide and Florida has been documented as one of the largest hubs for U.S. human trafficking.”

Lee commissioners were reminded this isn’t just an adult victim crime, but children are at risk, particularly runaways who are lured into sex trafficking by a predatory profiteer. Lee commissioners praised the U.S. Attorney’s Office for leading a task force, the Lee Sheriff’s Office and community organizations that “founded one of the first human trafficking task forces in the country in 2005,” Florida Gulf Coast University, Hodges University, Lee Health system and Abuse Counseling Treatment, among others.

At the Collier commission meeting, health department administrator Stephanie Vick noted harmful effects on children entrapped as sex slaves also include teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.

Collier commissioners honored the health department, Shelter for Abused Women and Children, and the Collier Sheriff’s Office for battling trafficking and helping victims.

Collier Commissioner Donna Fiala told the gathering that at a recent national conference of county associations, the Collier Sheriff’s Office was singled out as an agency others across the nation should seek to emulate in battling human trafficking.

We also applaud the Women’s Foundation of Southwest Florida, which earlier this month cited its ongoing work toward assembling a unified database to track trends that can better identify strategies and allocate resources to combat trafficking.

If you suspect someone is a victim, the always-staffed National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline is 1-888-373-7888 or text 233733 (BE FREE).