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UC Researchers Put Numbers On Human Trafficking Problem

Ira Gelb
/
Creative Commons

The latest human trafficking study is out. It determined the number of victims in Ohio from 2014-2016 who were minors and young adults.

The study, done by University of Cincinnati researchers and released by the Office of Criminal Justice Services Tuesday, studied data from 14 different state and local agencies. Eight of the sources were on an individual level, (Jane Doe, female, age 14, sex trafficking victim, etc) giving greater insight into how youth and young adults are being exploited in Ohio.

After digging through all the information, Valerie Anderson, assistant professor at UC School of Criminal Justice, discovered there were 1,032 known victims and 4,209 more at risk.

"In terms of answering the question, 'Is there an increase in human trafficking in Ohio?' I would answer I'm not sure because we have just been doing a better job in the State of Ohio in identifying and recording human trafficking incidents," Anderson says.

"Obtaining reliable data is essential to implementing informed anti-trafficking policy,” says Sophia Papadimos, state anti-trafficking coordinator. “The University of Cincinnati and collaborating partners have provided the state with new prevalence estimates that will help guide Ohio’s human trafficking response efforts."

This is the first study of its kind since 2010. Those at risk include minors who run away, are truant, in foster care or have been sexually abused.

Anderson and others determined key next steps, including the recommendation Ohio have a more uniform reporting system. As part of that, Anderson says sociodemographic statistics are needed so researchers can figure out the victims and the traffickers.

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With more than 30 years of journalism experience in the Greater Cincinnati market, Ann Thompson brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her reporting. She has reported for WKRC, WCKY, WHIO-TV, Metro Networks and CBS/ABC Radio. Her work has been recognized by the Associated Press and the Society of Professional Journalists. In 2019 and 2011 A-P named her “Best Reporter” for large market radio in Ohio. She has won awards from the Association of Women in Communications and the Alliance for Women in Media. Ann reports regularly on science and technology in Focus on Technology.