On the same day Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed one of the nation's toughest human-trafficking laws, a state task force released 26 additional steps needed to combat modern-day slavery.
Among the recommendations of the Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force are creating a state coordinator for the human-trafficking fight; channeling federal money to local anti-trafficking coalitions; adding training for law enforcement, social-services personnel, school nurses and foster parents; and providing services to at-risk youth.
Eleven state agencies are part of the task force created earlier this year by Kasich's executive order.
The measure, signed by Kasich yesterday, took effect immediately. It diverts juvenile-trafficking victims to treatment programs instead of jail, stiffens a human-trafficking charge to a first-degree felony with a mandatory 10-year sentence, requires convicted traffickers to register as sex offenders, and permits the arrest of "johns" who pay for the service of juvenile prostitutes.
"We're throwing the book at the abusers. Not just the traffickers, but those who profit from the traffickers," Kasich said at the bill-signing ceremony in Toledo, one of the nation's human-trafficking epicenters.
"We're no longer going to look the other way," Kasich said.
The task-force report said that young victims are drawn from many public places, including " malls, courthouses/juvenile centers, schools, social media, and local hangout spots." Children under 18 are the most-trafficked group in the U.S. An estimated 9 in 10 children who run away end up in the commercial sex business, the report said.
"These victims see few visible options; they sell sex at the hands of an exploitative and abusive adult as a means of survival."
Victims often suffer long-lasting mental-health issues, including post-traumatic stress disorder, panic attacks, suicidal thoughts and nightmares, according to the report.
Many of the task force's recommendations deal with the training of various groups and occupations, including school nurses and foster parents who are in a position to notice the signs of children who are being trafficked.
The task force also called for a law change to revoke individual licenses of people convicted of human-trafficking, as well as the licenses of businesses used in human-trafficking, such as nail salons and massage parlors.
A statewide toll-free hot line should be established for victims, law enforcement and the public, the task force said.
The full report is at www.governor.ohio.gov/Portals/0/pdf/news/OhioHumanTraffickingTaskForceReport.pdf.
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