Tallahassee, Fla. – The fight against human trafficking in Florida is gaining momentum as state lawmakers strive to reduce the number of victims. Every year, over 1,000 individuals are identified as victims of this heinous crime in the state. This alarming statistic has prompted action from Florida’s Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez, who believes that there is still much work to be done.
Florida stands out in terms of the number of human trafficking cases reported, with nearly 3,000 calls made to the National Human Trafficking hotline in 2021. The voices behind these calls are survivors like Marianne Thomas, who has endured the horrors of trafficking since she was just 15 years old. Undeterred by her traumatic past, Thomas has become an advocate for other survivors and is determined to bring about change in Florida’s laws.
During Human Trafficking Awareness Month, Thomas is throwing her support behind a proposed law that would impose stricter penalties on buyers of trafficked individuals. She emphatically argues that without buyers, human trafficking cannot thrive. It is this demand-driven aspect of the crime that must be addressed.
Online platforms have become breeding grounds for human trafficking, with a statewide survey revealing that traffickers have used social media to target victims on at least 271 occasions since 2019. To counteract this trend, a proposal is being considered in the Florida House to ban children under the age of 16 from having social media accounts. Representative Paul Renner stressed the necessity of taking proactive measures, such as age verification, to protect children from falling prey to technology that undermines their self-worth and purpose.
While progress has been made, Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nuñez stresses the need for ongoing efforts beyond the legislative session. She recognizes that communities across Florida continue to be plagued by this issue and emphasizes the urgency of a year-round approach.
As part of previous initiatives, Florida has already increased penalties for traffickers and offered more support to survivors. These steps demonstrate the state’s commitment to combatting human trafficking and providing assistance to its victims.
If you or anyone you know is a victim of trafficking or extortion, the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 is available 24/7 and guarantees confidentiality.
In conclusion, the battle against human trafficking in Florida remains an ongoing challenge. Lawmakers and advocates are determined to drive down the alarming number of victims through stronger penalties for buyers and targeted measures to counter trafficking through online platforms. Florida’s commitment to this cause goes beyond legislative sessions, acknowledging the need for a year-round effort to safeguard communities and support survivors.