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State News

Children's Advocate Calls For Creation Of Trafficking Czar

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D. Sharon Pruit
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Flickr Creative Commons
It's estimated that anywhere between 14,500 and 17,500 people are trafficked in the U.S. every year, most of whom are women and children.

In a continuing effort to stem the tide of human trafficking in Florida, a House panel heard recommendations Wednesday from five different victim services providers from around the state. Proposals include funding more victim-safe houses and creation of a new state department.

Florida ranks third in the nation in number of calls to the National Human Trafficking Hotline – a reputation officials have been trying vigorously to stamp out. But, the sexual commodification of the Sunshine State’s children still persists. Now, victim advocates are telling lawmakers they simply don’t have the resources needed to help every victim of human trafficking. Victim service providers are asking for more funding to expand the state’s network of safe houses, help in educating and retaining trafficked youth in programs and even the creation of a new state government position – a Human Trafficking Czar. Trudy Novicki is the Director of Kristi House, a victim advocacy group based in Miami. She thinks the job would better coordinate statewide efforts to end human trafficking.

“It’s one of those places where you need a very high level of cooperation between child-welfare and law enforcement and that is very difficult to achieve without putting that in one particular person,” Novicki said in a phone interview Wednesday.

Novicki argues without a centralized anti-human trafficking office the state has no effective way to track human trafficking cases and ensure all victims get the help they need. The federal government has a Human Trafficking Czar, but no state has its own – yet.