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Human Trafficking Awareness Month: Are you informed?


Human trafficking is illegally transporting men, women and children to be used in forced labor or forced sexual exploitation that profit their “owners.” Modern slavery.

            The International Labor Organization provides data to emphasize the huge problem, informing that 11.4million women and girls and 9.5 million men and boys are under forced labor. That means they work very hard and are not paid for their labors. Nearly 19 million victims are exploited by private individuals or enterprises and over 2 million by the state or rebel groups.

ILO goes on to say that of those exploited by individuals or enterprises, 4.5 million are victims of forced sexual exploitation, aka prostitution. Forced labor in the private economy generates illegal profits amounting to about $150billion U.S. dollars annually. Where are they forced? Agriculture, construction, domestic work, entertainment and manufacturing.

January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month. The objective is to raise awareness of modern day slavery and human trafficking. If you think it isn’t happening in our community, you are mistaken. The Ohio Department of Education, Miami University and the Ohio Mental Health Network for School Success have developed a program, Human Trafficking: What Schools Need to Know, to teach professionals who work with youth ages 12-18 what they need to know about human trafficking, to recognize the signs and how to keep students and their families from harm.

The Project AWARE Ohio program raises awareness of behavioral issues among school-aged youth provides training to detect and respond to mental the challenges and crisis in children and adults, and increase access to behavior health supports for children, youth and families. For more information about this program, contact by email,,, or for the Ohio Mental Health Network for School Success.

Another program, Youth Mental Health First Aid, is an eight-hour training for adults who interact with school age youth. The class reviews typical youth development, introduces common mental health challenges for youth, and teaches a five-step action plan to help young people in crisis and non-crisis situations including anxiety, depression substance use, disorders with psychosis, disruptive behavior disorders such as AD/HD and eating disorders. For more information about this program in Columbiana County, contact Linda Eells, 330-424-5772.

When someone is in crisis, they need someone they can talk to now. Phone calls can be overheard and put them in a bad place, perhaps a dangerous situation. Now there is a crisis text line that will afford more privacy. The Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (OhioMAS) has trained crisis counselors available 24/7. OhioMAS didn’t initiate the services but it has made it available to all Ohioans. Initiated in 2013, last year there were about 15,000 text messages received each day, according to a recent published report from the Columbiana County Mental Health and Recovery Services Board. It isn’t counseling, but it can help get someone through a difficult or challenging moment. Text “4HOPE” to 741741. A reply can be expected within five minutes. To end the conversation just type, “STOP.” For more information about the service, visit Anyone can use it.

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