ROSE DAY AWARDS
This year, Roseburg Zonta celebrated Rose Day by honoring the primary members of the Douglas County Human Trafficking Task Force. The task force was initiated by Marion Kotowski, a Violence Prevention Specialist for Mercy Foundation & UP2US Now. She noticed that despite a statewide hotline for Human Trafficking, there were no reports of any trafficking in Douglas County.
Given that Portland is the 5th largest human trafficking hub in the nation and that I-5 runs through the city, this seemed wrong. Thus, Kotowski contacted specialists from Portland to come to Douglas County to train our law enforcement, DINT, and advocacy leaders on how to recognize trafficking and assist victims. The Portland staff arrived the evening before. They placed an online request—and within minutes started getting dozens of responses of consumers looking to have sex with a minor.
Trafficking does not necessarily mean smuggling a person to a different state or country. Trafficking includes selling another person for sex, drugs, labor, or cash. The average age of recruitment for sex trafficking is 12 years old; and it can happen to boys as well as girls. Human trafficking is a $38+ billion industry and second only to illegal drug trafficking. Traffickers use force, fraud and/or coercion to recruit victims into trafficking. One third of the missing teens end up ensnarled by trafficking for sex within 48 hours of being reported as missing.
The Douglas County Human Trafficking Task Force is just two years old, but has already done much for the area. In addition to the groups being trained to recognize trafficking, the Task Force has also trained Umpqua Community College (UCC) nursing, dental, paramedic, and truck driving students on the signs of trafficking. They have also had trainings for Seven Feathers staff, medical providers, school personal and have human trafficking covered in Healthy Relationships and Violence Prevention classes taught in our public schools. Their partnerships with “Truckers Against Trafficking” training at UCC earned them an invitation to a national conference.
The Task Force is also willing to host trainings for service groups or other groups working with children. Contact Marion at email@example.com for additional information. Recognizing the signs is an important tool in stopping trafficking. Parents should be vigilant about checking all of their children’s electronic devices for offers, sexting, inappropriate photographs, and pornography. The average age of initially being exposed to pornography has now dropped to 9 years old so don’t assume only your teen is vulnerable. The National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) has a 24/7 hotline and text service to get help, report a tip, or seek more information at: 888-373-7888 or text: 233733. If you observe trafficking in progress, call 911.
Roseburg Area Zonta would like to THANK the Douglas County Human Trafficking Task Force for uniting the effort of so many partners to help educate our community about trafficking, prevent trafficking, and aid victims.