Montgomery County Takes a Stand Against Human Trafficking: New Education and Awareness Campaign Unveiled

Per Montgomery County: To combat the harrowing issue of human trafficking, the Montgomery County Human Trafficking Prevention Committee is introducing its inaugural education and awareness campaign. Montgomery County residents will soon encounter powerful anti-human trafficking messages displayed on buses, bus stops and various social media platforms. The ads will be placed on 12 buses in English and Spanish and be displayed at five bus transit shelters. The campaign will run through October.

The campaign is a collaboration of the County’s Human Trafficking Prevention Committee and the County Department of Health and Human Services.

“This campaign is not merely an initiative; it is a necessity to illuminate the issue of human trafficking, said County Executive Marc Elrich. “According to the U.S. Department of State, there are an estimated 27.6 million victims worldwide. It is crucial we take steps to educate all people on this topic as anyone can fall victim.”

The campaign is fueled by statistics from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that show:

  • The number of individuals prosecuted for human trafficking surged from 729 in 2011 to 1,343 in 2020, marking an 84 percent increase.
  • Convictions for Federal human trafficking offenses rose from 464 persons in 2011 to 837 persons in 2019. There were 658 persons convicted in 2020.

“This campaign is critical to raising awareness about human trafficking in the County,” said Wendy Stickle, chair of the Human Trafficking Prevention Committee. “Many people in the County do not know what human trafficking is, let alone that it exists in the County.”

In 2022, Montgomery County investigated 11 cases of sex trafficking and four individuals were charged with trafficking. Sex trafficking is an insidious crime that can victimize anyone regardless of age, gender, socioeconomic status or background.

“Trafficking in Montgomery County occurs in various places, including hotels, private homes and illegal spa and massage establishments,” said Montgomery County Police Chief Marcus Jones. “Our vice unit works extremely closely with our special victims unit to ensure that not only are victims assisted, but that traffickers are arrested and held accountable.”

The Human Trafficking Prevention Committee began as a task force in 2014 and transitioned to a committee in 2017. The idea was based on a formal recommendation by the Montgomery County Commission for Women, which supports the committee.

The group consist of diverse members, including individuals, nonprofit service providers, advocacy groups and representatives from County agencies. The goal of the committee is to increase understanding of the issue in Montgomery County and to develop inter-agency coordination of strategies for responses and prevention.

To report sex trafficking crimes, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline toll-free at 1-888- 373-7888.

Community groups that would like more information about trafficking can email [email protected] to schedule a training or to learn more.

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