By Anne Teigen
Governor John Carney has proclaimed January 2018 as Human Trafficking Awareness Month in Delaware.
In an interview with WMDT, Delaware Representative Ruth Briggs King (R) said, “"It's a very real and present issue that can happen to women and young men and people become prey so we're just trying to really increase the resources and to prevent it…”
Delaware is not the only state taking notice of this national issue. The ruthless cruelty of labor trafficking became headline news this month when a Fayetteville North Carolina newspaper exposed over 20 years of reported child labor trafficking at a ranch and fish markets just outside the city.
The covert nature of trafficking crimes means the public is often unaware they can occur close to home, at their neighborhood store, and that businesses in their neighborhood may benefit from, or be used as conduits for, sex and labor trafficking.
In 2017 alone, 43 states enacted more than 150 bills related to human trafficking. Many of these laws are designed to increase public awareness, disseminate information on trafficking crimes, services and prevention efforts. They also aim to set standards in certain industries for licensing, advertising, training and disclosure so more people such as flight attendants and Uber drivers are aware of the signs of human trafficking. California enacted a bill in 2017 that requires hotels, motels, and bed and breakfast inns to post a notice relating to slavery and human trafficking.
Kentucky law now requires public schools and all highway rest areas to have the National Human Trafficking Reporting Hotline posted, and Georgia expanded locations where human trafficking hotline posters must be included to government buildings.
Additionally, in Georgia every government entity must provide a hyperlink on the homepage of its website to human trafficking information on the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s website. Rhode Island law requires the department of labor to impose a $300 fine on any public or quasi-public transportation agency that fails to post a public awareness sign about human trafficking that contains both the state and national human trafficking resource hotline information. Texas lawmakers want to encourage awareness early, and now requires the development and use of instructional modules and training for public schools to use in a health class curriculum on the prevention of sexual abuse and trafficking.
Awareness is only a piece of combatting human trafficking. For more information about state efforts to combat human trafficking and provide services to human trafficking victims, visit NCSL’s website.
Anne Teigen tracks human trafficking issues in NCSL's Criminal Justice program.