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January Marks End of First Year of TN Human Trafficking Task Force Activities

Press release from the Tennessee Department of Human Services; January 9, 2015:

Task Force continues efforts to combat human trafficking

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The state Human Trafficking Task Force is inviting all Tennesseans to join in the recognition of National Human Trafficking Awareness Day on Sunday, January 11, 2015.

Human trafficking is the illegal trading of human beings for commercial sexual exploitation or forced labor. It is a multifaceted problem that has no boundaries.

This January marks the end of the first year of activities by the Human Trafficking Task Force, established as required by Public Chapter 464. The Human Trafficking Task Force is comprised of representatives from state agencies, legislators, community leaders, researchers, law enforcement, survivors, and subject matter experts. The task force accomplished much in 2014, including but not limited to: task force member participation in national and international conferences and symposiums focused on human trafficking; consultation with national, state and local experts; and a task force strategic work session.

Tennessee has received much recognition for its efforts. It is only one of very few states to have conducted a statewide study to assess the frequency of human trafficking and developed a plan to address the needs of victims. The state also maintains an “A” rating with Shared Hope International’s Protected Innocence Challenge. This annual report is a comprehensive study of existing state laws whereby every state receives a report card on 41 key legislative components that must be addressed in a state’s laws in order to effectively respond to the crime of domestic minor sex trafficking. .

“We are very excited about the progress Tennessee is making in addressing human trafficking,” said Dr. Raquel Hatter, Tennessee Department of Human Services Commissioner and chair of the Human Trafficking Task Force. “Through solid public-private partnerships, the state has generated momentum that has established Tennessee as a leader in the nation.”

The Human Trafficking Task Force encourages Tennesseans to play a key role in combatting human trafficking by educating themselves and others on its prevalence and learning the warnings signs.

Join the Human Trafficking Task Force and the nation on January 11 by wearing navy blue to show your support in solidarity against human trafficking.

Visit the resources listed below to learn more about human trafficking:

If you suspect an individual may be a victim of human trafficking, contact the Tennessee Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-855-55-TNHTH (1-855-558-6484).

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Press Releases

TBI Looks to Raise Awareness of Human Trafficking

Press release from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation; August 18, 2014: 

NASHVILLE – Today, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation officially launched a new outreach to raise awareness of human trafficking in Tennessee.

The campaign, titled “IT Has To Stop,” hopes to increase awareness of human trafficking in Tennessee and beyond. The centerpiece of the campaign, ITHasToStop.com, features information, current research and statistics, video, important contacts, and links for visitors to join nonprofits and other groups in the efforts to curb trafficking in Tennessee. Visitors can also connect with the campaign on designated Facebook and Twitter accounts.

“Human trafficking is modern-day slavery, it’s unacceptable, and it’s a crime in Tennessee,” said TBI Director Mark Gwyn. “We hope TBI’s new public awareness campaign sheds some much-needed light on the issue, so we can increase the number of people who insist it has to stop in our state and beyond.”

Research by The Polaris Project, a national leader in the fight against human trafficking, indicates it to be one of the fastest-growing criminal enterprises in the United States. The U.S. Department of Justice and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children estimate the number of children bought and sold in the country for the purpose of sexual exploitation to number at least 100,000. The average age of a trafficking victim is 13.

“Tennessee has recently been recognized for great strides in enacting laws to protect survivors of trafficking,” said Gwyn. “We also have trusted nonprofits on the frontlines of this troubling fight. Now, we hope this new effort is our state’s next step to rally public support and increase awareness of this kind of crime and the way out for those trapped.”

The site is available for review at www.ITHasToStop.com.