Harrison County Health Department raises awareness

Photo Provided Staff at the Harrison County Health Department, License Bureau, Child Support Enforcement Agency and OSU Extension offices wear blue on Jan. 11 for Wear Blue Day.

CADIZ — January is National Human Trafficking Prevention Awareness Month, and the Harrison County Health Department has been spending the month raising awareness.

Deputy Health Commissioner Katie Norris said the department has been posting resources and information about human trafficking on its social media pages to raise awareness. Norris also said the health department, license bureau, child support enforcement agency and Ohio State University Extension offices from the Harrison County Government Center all wore blue on Jan. 11 for Wear Blue Day.

“Human trafficking isn’t necessarily prominent in the county, but it is in the state of Ohio,” Norris said.

Norris said that according to data from the Ohio Attorney General’s website, 1,397 individuals in Ohio experienced human trafficking in 2020. She said more recent data is not available.

“It involves the use of force, fraud or coercion to exploit another person through commercialized sex or involuntary labor,” Norris said.

She said many people associate human trafficking with commercialized sex only, but she said that labor trafficking is also very common. Norris said labor trafficking can happen in many different fields and, like sex trafficking, it can happen anywhere to anyone.

She said that labor trafficking can occur in businesses that appear to be legal.

“A lot of people think human trafficking only happens in less developed countries, but, in truth, it happens everywhere including in the United States and Ohio,” Norris said. “It affects all walks of life, Human trafficking can happen to any gender. According to estimates from the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, about 25% of people who are impacted by human trafficking in Ohio are males.

“It affects families, communities and individuals across generations, and it doesn’t single anybody out. It affects people of any class, religion, any ethnic group, color, age group — everyone can be impacted by it,” Norris added.

Norris also said that human trafficking does not always involve violence. She said many traffickers use psychological means such as manipulation and threats to coerce others.

“It could be someone you know or someone you trust, and there’s not a physical aspect to it,” she said.

Norris also explained that human trafficking can take place in any area, and human trafficking does not always involve taking people to other countries.

“It can happen in rural, urban or suburban areas,” she said.

Norris said human trafficking is a health concern as well as a crime.

“It obviously impacts people’s access to care for people who experience human trafficking,” she said.

Norris said human trafficking can also spread sexually transmitted infections and diseases.

She also said that human trafficking has a large negative impact on mental health.

“Human trafficking is linked to social determinants of health, you know, poverty, a lack of social support, sometimes and discrimination,” Norris said.

She said that many of the health effects are long-lasting.

“Our job in public health is to promote the rights and well-being of others, so we’re spreading awareness for Human Trafficking Awareness Month,” Norris said.

The National Human Trafficking Hotline can be reached by calling 1-888-373-7888 or by texting “BeFree” to 233733. An online live chat is also available at humantraffickinghotline.org. The hotline is free to use and available 24/7. All conversations will be kept confidential.

For more information about or resources on human trafficking, contact the Harrison County Health Department at 740-942-2616 or healthdepartment@harrisoncountyohio.org or visit the Harrison County Health Department Facebook page. The department is located at 538 N. Main St. in Cadiz and is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.


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