Ohio education professionals attend presentations on keeping children safe from human trafficking

Published: Jul. 26, 2023 at 8:29 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - It is the worst of the worst, children being sexually exploited and preyed upon.

”Children, being abused, tortured, sexual situations, that no children should be involved in. With a number of tips coming in, we can’t turn that faucet off,” said David Frattare with Ohio Internet Crimes against Children Task Force.

Frattare was among hundreds of law enforcement, educators, and members of the community who gathered at the Ohio Safety Summit in Columbus.

According to ICAC, last year there were more than 11,000 tips in Ohio, 90% of which dealt specifically with child exploitation and sexual abuse material.

“It makes you sick that these kids are so vulnerable,” said Dolores Bruno, who works in the education office for the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland.

The former teacher attended The Internet Safety and Protecting Students session at the summit.

She said what she learned was eye-opening.

“A comprehensive holistic approach to solutions for our schools, and these hands-on resources that I can help spread to them,” explained Bruno.

According to Polaris, the agency that runs the National Human Trafficking hotline, Ohio ranks sixth in the country in the number of calls to the hotline.

”A lot of people take that statistic to mean that more trafficking is happening in Ohio, but there is no conclusive evidence to suggest more trafficking happens in Ohio than in other states,” Rebekkah O’Bryan with the Anti-Human Trafficking Office said. “This is probably evidence of maybe a positive thing that in Ohio through the Governors Human Trafficking Task Force, and other efforts, we spend a lot of resources on bullying awareness around what trafficking is, how to identify and report and response.”

O’Bryan led a session: Do you stay or do you go? Identifying youth victims of human trafficking.

Dozens of attendees broke into groups and were given scenarios as an exercise in understanding what these victims go through.

The goal was to walk away with a newfound understanding and empathy for what children who are being exploited go through.