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Press Release Detail

Second Statewide Human Trafficking Summit Set for October

DJJ partners with state agencies to launch website


June 10, 2013

DJJ Media Contact:
Meghan Speakes Collins, DJJ Director of Communications
(850) 544-5387

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida Department of Juvenile Justice and the Interagency Workgroup on Human Trafficking announced today that the second statewide Human Trafficking Summit is scheduled for October 3, 2013 at the University of South Florida in Tampa and launched the event’s website, http://www.djj.state.fl.us/humantraffickingsummit.

Department of Juvenile Justice Secretary Wansley Walters said, “Collaboration and communication among authorities, organizations that serve at-risk populations and the community is the key to combating human trafficking. Despite the earnest efforts of state and local leaders, as well as the Florida Legislature, to protect Florida residents and visitors from human traffickers, Florida remains one of the most attractive destinations and transit points in the eyes of these predators. The summit is a physical representation of the state’s unified stance against this atrocious activity and our commitment to end it.”

This year’s summit will focus on labor and sex trafficking of both children and adults and will offer a wide array of breakout session and training opportunities. Profession-specific sessions tailored to professions, such as law enforcement, the legal community, service providers, the medical community, educators and other first responders are planned.

Attorney General Pam Bondi said, "I am committed to making Florida a zero-tolerance state for human trafficking, and I am honored to be a key partner in the Human Trafficking Summit. The only way we can stop human trafficking in Florida is to engage everyone in the effort and to raise awareness.”

Agency for Persons with Disabilities Director Barbara Palmer said, “Many Floridians with developmental disabilities have the potential to be exploited. They may not fully understand that they have a choice to say no to situations involving unwanted sexual activity or prostitution. APD, working with other state agencies, will continue the state’s efforts to prevent the abuse and exploitation of our vulnerable citizens.”

Department of Business and Professional Regulation Secretary Ken Lawson said, “DBPR places a high priority on preventing labor and sex trafficking amongst our licensed businesses and professionals.  Many of our personnel are trained in identifying existing illegal activity, thereby keeping underage and/or indentured servitude out of our hotels, restaurants, farm labor, construction, cosmetology establishments, and all professions regulated by DBPR statewide. We will continue to work accordingly with law enforcement and other state agencies to keep our licensees and those whom they serve safe from human trafficking.”  

Department of Children and Families Secretary David Wilkins said, "This past January, the Safe Harbor Act took effect, allowing children who are rescued from prostitution to get help from DCF's child welfare professionals instead of being placed in juvenile delinquency. To date, we have opened four safe houses to protect the victims of this heinous crime, and we have more opening soon. Collaboration with our law enforcement and community partners statewide has been critical to our efforts to ensure the safety and success of these vulnerable young Floridians. But this is just the beginning, and there is still much work to be done."

Department of Education Commissioner Dr. Tony Bennett said, “Human trafficking is atrocious and the Department of Education is committed to putting an end to this brutal practice. Educators throughout Florida need to be aware of the signs that a student is being exploited. As mandatory reporters, teachers many times are in the best position to report suspicious activities.”

Department of Economic Opportunity Executive Director Jesse Panuccio said, “Human trafficking is a despicable practice and cannot be tolerated. We are focused on making Florida a pioneer in the battle against human trafficking and its horrifying effects. At DEO, we are training our workforce services staff to recognize the signs of trafficking and refer survivors to proper authorities and resources and assisting to find and prosecute the perpetrators.”

Department of Health Secretary and State Surgeon General Dr. John Armstrong said, "Human trafficking is a horrible tragedy.  For the vulnerable, for their families and loved ones, and for every Floridian, we must move from awareness to unified action to end this scourge that tries to hide in our communities."

Florida Commission on Human Relations Executive Director Michelle Wilson said, “The Florida Commission on Human Relationship fully supports this important endeavor to rid Florida of the scourge of human trafficking. By bringing attention to this issue, lives will be saved.”

The website, http://www.djj.state.fl.us/humantraffickingsummit, also launched today will provide information and registration details for attendees.

If you are aware of any individual who is being abused or exploited, please call the Florida Abuse Hotline at 1-800-962-2873.