What the state has done about it, what you can, too
MADISON – Attorney General Brad Schimel and Wisconsin Department of Children and Families Secretary Eloise Anderson alerted the public to the insidious crime of human trafficking that exists in Wisconsin.
“Human trafficking is happening here in Wisconsin, in urban and suburban areas, small and large cities and towns and villages,” said Schimel. In a statewide assessment, Wisconsin law enforcement in nearly every county in the state reported that human trafficking occurs in their community.
In September 2017, Schimel established the Human Trafficking Bureau within the Division of Criminal Investigation, which provides a coordinated statewide strategy to identify, target and prosecute traffickers to combat human trafficking and provide needed assistance to survivors. From September 2017 to Jan. 1, 2018, the DOJ Human Trafficking Bureau has:
• Conducted 23 child and adult sex trafficking investigations;
• Arrested 15 child and adult sex traffickers;
• Arrested six “johns”;
• Recovered 30 adult sex trafficking victims; and
• Recovered four child sex trafficking victims.
“The Wisconsin Department of Justice and DCF have made significant strides in improving support for people who have been trafficked and dismantling trafficking networks, but our greatest resource is the everyday citizen who is fueling up at a truck stop, shopping at the mall, or staying at a hotel. Be on the lookout for signs of trafficking – and when you see it, report it,” said Schimel.
The state’s Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force, co-led by Anderson and Schimel, developed a guide that can be consulted if a person has concerns that someone is being sexually trafficked or exploited. Anyone can review the indicators in this guide, follow the directions for the appropriate response, and use the included contact information to report sex trafficking or exploitation in any of the 72 counties or 11 Native tribes in Wisconsin.
A two-year state task force composed of six work groups developed a coordinated statewide plan to combat human trafficking and worked with DCF and DOJ in launching several new tools to help in the state’s prevention and treatment efforts, including:
• A statewide indicator and response guide to identify potential human trafficking cases.
• A Human Trafficking 101 curriculum that will train various professionals who work with youth.
• A regional hub in Outagamie County that coordinates support and technical assistance for 17 counties and three Native American tribes in northeastern Wisconsin.
• Developed training for child welfare and youth justice workers to spot the signs of trafficking.
• Launching a web-based training for the hospitality industry that will be available in English, Spanish and Hmong.
In 2018, DCF will expand upon its efforts to increase public awareness and establish a new Anti-Human Trafficking Advisory Council that will continue efforts to involve cross-system partners in advising the state on the implementation of its response plan that includes:
• Expanding the number of regional hubs in the state.
• Completing an educational video and working with the Department of Public Instruction to complete a teaching curriculum to help inform students about the real dangers of trafficking.
• Developing a statewide public awareness campaign.
• Continuing to explore opportunities to partner with service providers to establish residential treatment options.
DOJ and the Wisconsin Crime Victims Council also are working with industries that have a workforce well-positioned to see, recognize and report human trafficking, such as the hospitality or trucking industry. In 2018, the council and DOJ plan to:
• Develop industry-specific tools for the shopping mall workforce, where traffickers often engage in recruitment of vulnerable youth.
• Develop industry-specific tools for the transportation and busing industry.
• Continue working with the hospitality industry’s workforce to recognize and report human trafficking.
• Continue working with Truckers Against Trafficking.
DOJ and DCF encourage rural, urban, suburban and tribal public agency executives and business owners to download and display anti-human-trafficking posters. The posters can be downloaded at no cost online.
For more information about human trafficking in Wisconsin, and how you can help individuals who have been trafficked, go to BeFreeWisconsin.com.
To view the Child Sex Trafficking and Exploitation Indicator and Response Guide, including contact information to report suspected sex trafficking or sexual exploitation of a child for all 72 counties and 11 tribes in Wisconsin, go to dcf.wisconsin.gov/files/aht/pdf/indicatorguide.pdf. – From the Wisconsin Department of Justice
Editor’s note: A related story, Presentation highlights human trafficking in Wisconsin, Washburn County, can be found on our website at leaderregister.com