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Legislators Receive Blue Ribbons for National Human Trafficking Awareness Day; State Agencies Partner with Legislature to Bring Awareness to this Modern-Day Slavery

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
January 11, 2012

CONTACT
DJJ Communications
(850) 921-5900
Erin Gillespie,
DCF Press Secretary
(850) 459-2063

Tallahassee -- The Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) and the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) will be handing out blue ribbons to legislators today in observance of National Human Trafficking Awareness Day. The ribbons are attached to cards describing human trafficking and how legislators can help.

The cards read: "Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery. It affects children, adults, U.S. citizens, residents, and foreign nationals alike. More specifically, it affects Florida’s children. … Already, state statutes provide greater penalties for perpetrators of child sex trafficking; bills to help protect exploited children continue to be filed; and, both DCF and DJJ are exploring ways to identify and address the needs of this unique population."

In addition to Jan. 11 as the date for the national observance of this issue, Gov. Rick Scott has proclaimed January 2012 as Human Trafficking Awareness Month in Florida. Click here to read his proclamation.

"In just the past year, more than 400 Florida kids were reported as potential human trafficking victims," said DJJ Secretary Wansley Walters, chair of the Human Trafficking Workgroup of the Florida Children and Youth Cabinet. "That statistic just makes me wonder how many more children are being trafficked without our knowledge. This month and all year long, we will continue to send the message that our children are not for sale."

Human trafficking is modern-day slavery through forced labor, debt bondage, involuntary servitude, forced marriage, and commercial sexual exploitation.

Statistics rank Florida as the third most popular trafficking destination in the country. Half of all trafficking victims are children. DCF and DJJ are committed to efforts to abolish human trafficking in Florida.

"Florida is being recognized as a national leader in the fight against human trafficking, especially concerning children who are victims," said DCF Secretary David Wilkins, chair of the Florida Children and Youth Cabinet. "We are diligent in our work to rescue children who are being used and abused this way."

On Jan. 31, the Florida Children and Youth Cabinet will observe National Human Trafficking Awareness Month during its 1 p.m. meeting in the Capitol Cabinet Meeting Room. Statewide coalitions are also bringing awareness to the problem of human trafficking throughout the month of January. To see more statewide human trafficking events, please see:

http://www.dcf.state.fl.us/newsroom/pressreleases

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