Summit to focus on human trafficking

Florida is a hotspot for human trafficking, a form of modern-day slavery, ranking 3rd among U.S. states, according to the National Trafficking Resource Center. The 2015 Human Trafficking Summit, to be held at USF’s Marshall Center, is meant to address this problem.

The Summit is part of an effort from Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s Statewide Council on Human Trafficking, according to the event’s press release. A main goal of the council is to provide venues, such as the Summit, to discuss eliminating human trafficking. 

According to USF St. Petersburg professor Joan Reid, who has been studying sex trafficking in Tampa Bay since 2008, Tampa is such a prominent location for human trafficking because of a combination of heavy tourism, adult entertainment and vulnerable youth. 

“Traffickers are going to bring girls to where demand is high,” she said.

The agenda for the Summit includes sessions on human trafficking and the LGBTQ community, child sex trafficking, domestic human trafficking and court cases, among others. Christina Daly, secretary of the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, and Mike Carroll, secretary of the Florida Department of Children and Families, will be panelists, along with other major officials. 

Bondi, Gov. Rick Scott, USF College of Behavioral and Community Sciences Dean Julianne Serovich, and Terry Coonan, from Florida State University’s Center for Advancement of Human Rights, will also be in attendance, according to a press release from the attorney general’s Office.

The Summit is hosted by the attorney general’s Office, the Florida Department of Children and Families, the Department of Juvenile Justice, and the Statewide Council on Human Trafficking.

According to the Human Trafficking Center, most victims are trafficked into forced labor, while the second most are trafficked into sexual exploitation. Reid said some common signs of a sex trafficking victim are a relationship with a controlling, older person; secretiveness about behavior; or frequent travel without explanation. 

“It’s so important to have these different organizations putting on the Human Trafficking Summit because many of the girls and youth that get involved and exploited in human trafficking are youth who are disadvantaged,” Reid said.

“… These aren’t bad girls, these are vulnerable girls,” she said.

The Summit is co-sponsored by the Florida Network of Youth and Family Services, the Hispanic National Bar Association and the Junior League of Tampa. It will be held in the USF Marshall Center on Oct. 29 at 9 am.