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DJJ Raises Awareness about Human Trafficking in Florida’s Farmworker Communities

April 3, 2013
DJJ Communications


Tallahassee, Fla. – The Florida Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) presented a training course about the scope of Florida’s human trafficking problem during a March 29 statewide webinar for members of Florida’s Interagency Farmworker Focus Group.

“While farmworkers and troubled youth may seem to be disparate populations, they are alike in their vulnerability to human traffickers.” said DJJ Secretary Wansley Walters. “Collaboration and communication among authorities and organizations that serve populations targeted by human traffickers is the key to combating human trafficking. Sharing information enables local-level task forces and coalitions to identify the warning signs and help victims with appropriate services and treatment.”

The webinar, which was hosted by the Department of Health and presented jointly by the Department of Management Services and the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, included presentations by law enforcement, state agencies and charities that assist the farmworker population on subjects important to farmworker organizations. DJJ Human Trafficking Director Tyson Elliott presented insight he gained during his former position as lead investigator on a human trafficking case involving immigrant workers in 2008, when he worked for the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office.

Human trafficking is described as modern-day slavery through forced labor, debt bondage, involuntary servitude, forced marriage, and commercial sexual exploitation. National statistics rank Florida as the third most popular human trafficking destination in the country. Half of all victims are children.

DJJ’s Victim Identification Pilot Project is the first effort in the nation by a state agency to attempt to identify human trafficking victims immediately upon arrest. Pilot sites are operating in Broward, Miami-Dade, and Orange counties and incorporate the only research-based, trauma-informed assessment tool, which was developed by Shared Hope International. The pilot allows DJJ to serve as a safety net for children not identified by law enforcement. This is important because, contrary to expectations, data shows victims are not typically arrested for prostitution. Only 5 percent of the youth identified as human trafficking victims between July 2009 and January 2013 entered the juvenile justice system on a prostitution charge. Youth victims are arrested far more frequently on charges of battery or theft.

DJJ will host Florida’s second statewide Human Trafficking Summit on September 30, 2013, at the University of South Florida in Tampa. The Summit will focus on both labor and sex trafficking and will offer law enforcement, legal professionals, service providers and first responders training sessions on victim identification and treatment.

If you suspect a child is a victim of human trafficking, please call the Florida Abuse Hotline at 1-800-962-2873. To report adult victims, please call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1-888-373-7888.


The Florida Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) strives to increase public safety by reducing juvenile delinquency, strengthening families and turning around the lives of troubled youth. To learn more, visit www.djj.state.fl.us and follow us on www.twitter.com/fladjj, www.facebook.com/fladjj and http://www.youtube.com/FLDJJ.