Mobilizing Communities to Stop Human Trafficking in Maryland

News Release, Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention

Today, the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention, along with the University of Maryland School of Social Work, Maryland Department of Human Services, and Maryland Human Trafficking Task Force, hosted the third annualMaryland Child Trafficking Conferenceat Towson University. More than 500 people attended the conference, a call to action which focused on child trafficking prevention and intervention efforts. Survivors of trafficking and victim advocates encouraged communities in Maryland to learn how to identify possible victims of child trafficking and understand the psychological impact trafficking and other trauma can have on young people.

“Child trafficking, which is classified by law as a form of child sexual abuse, must be addressed through a comprehensive, trauma-informed approached,” said Jessica Wheeler, Acting Deputy Director of theGovernor’s Office for Children. “This is why we have been working closely with Child Advocacy Centers, law enforcement, and victim service providers in each jurisdiction in Maryland to tackle this problem head-on. We fully support events like this conference to bring everyone together, and spread awareness around this issue.”

Research by theInternational Labor Organizationestimates there are more than four million victims of human trafficking worldwide, and approximately one million of the victims are children.The University of Maryland School of Social Worksays that between June of 2013 and June of 2019, Maryland agencies reported more than 575 cases of alleged child sex trafficking to the Department of Social Services. The same data shows these reported cases involved 480 minors. These numbers do not include the children who were not screened as possible trafficking victims.

Combatting human trafficking in Maryland is a priority for Governor Larry Hogan’s administration. In 2018, Governor Hogan signed anExecutive Ordercreating the position of Anti-Human Trafficking Policy Director, housed within the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention, to coordinate responses to human trafficking between law enforcement and victim services providers. Governor Hogan has allocated roughly $16 million in grant funding since 2018 toward anti-human trafficking initiatives through the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention. Some of that funding goes to theMaryland Criminal Intelligence Networkwhich aims to dismantle criminal organizations in Maryland.

“Human trafficking is a complicated, nationwide issue that needs a holistic solution,” said Glenn Fueston, Executive Director of the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention. “Under the leadership of Governor Hogan, we are targeting human trafficking operations, connecting victims with more resources to get away from traffickers, and introducing trauma-informed approaches to helping children exposed to trafficking and its effects. We are proud to support efforts here in Maryland to stop traffickers who prey on, and exploit our most vulnerable children for money.”

The Maryland Child Trafficking Conference is a part of the Maryland Human Trafficking Initiative for Children & Youth (MHTI), a three-year project to improve statewide coordination and multi-disciplinary collaboration in response to human trafficking involving children and youth, including both labor and sex trafficking. This initiative was established with funding from the Department of Justice, Office for Victims of Crime and is led by the Ruth Young Center for Families and Children at the University of Maryland School of Social Work, in partnership with the Governor’s Office on Crime Control and Prevention, Maryland Human Trafficking Task Force, Maryland Departments of Human Resources and Juvenile Services, and U.S. Attorney’s Office.

For more on efforts by the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention to stop human trafficking, visit ourwebsite.

David M. Higgins II, Publisher/Editor

David M. Higgins was born in Baltimore and grew up in Southern Maryland. He has had a passion for journalism since high school. After spending many years in the Hospitality Industry he began working in...