“Human trafficking is happening here;” AG Schimel and DCF Secretary Anderson Recognize Human Trafficking Awareness Month
MADISON, Wis. – Today, Attorney General Brad Schimel and Wisconsin Department of Children and Families (DCF) Secretary Eloise Anderson alerted the public to the insidious crime of human trafficking that exists in Wisconsin.
“Human trafficking is happening here in Wisconsin, in urban and suburban areas, small and large cities, and towns and villages,” said Attorney General Schimel. “The Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) and DCF have made significant strides in improving support for people who have been trafficked and dismantling trafficking networks, but our greatest resource is the everyday citizen who is fueling up at a truck stop, shopping at the mall, or staying at a hotel. Be on the lookout for signs of trafficking - and when you see it, report it.”
The state’s Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force, co-led by DCF Secretary Eloise Anderson and Attorney General Schimel, developed a guide that can be consulted if a person has concerns that a youth is being sexually trafficked or exploited. Anyone can review the indicators in this guide, follow the directions for the appropriate response, and use the included contact information to report sex trafficking or exploitation in any of the 72 counties or 11 Tribes in Wisconsin.
The state-level task force recently met all established goals and concluded its two year run. The task force was comprised of six workgroups that developed a coordinated statewide plan to combat human trafficking and worked with DCF and DOJ in launching several new tools to help in the state’s prevention and treatment efforts, including:
- A statewide indicator and response guide to identify potential human trafficking cases;
- A Human Trafficking 101 curriculum that will train various professionals who work with youth;
- A regional hub in Outagamie County that coordinates support and technical assistance for 17 counties and three Native American tribes in northeastern Wisconsin; and
- Developed training for child welfare and youth justice workers to spot the signs of trafficking;
- Currently launching a web-based training for the hospitality industry that will be available in English, Spanish and Hmong.
“We have come a long way in the last two years to improve the state’s human trafficking response and increase services for people who have suffered from this horrible crime,” said DCF Secretary Eloise Anderson. “At the same time, we understand that our work is just beginning. If we are to build upon the strong foundation that has been laid, we must continue to work together to increase the services offered, develop more prevention tools, and raise public awareness of trafficking taking place in our communities. We are committed to ending human trafficking in Wisconsin and we call upon all of our citizens to help in this important fight.”
In 2018, DCF will expand upon its efforts to increase public awareness and establish a new Anti-Human Trafficking Advisory Council that will continue efforts to involve cross-system partners in advising the state on the implementation of its response plan which includes:
- Expanding the number of regional hubs in the state
- Completing an educational video and working with the Department of Public Instruction to complete a teaching curriculum to help inform students of the dangers of trafficking.
- Developing a statewide public awareness campaign
- Continuing to explore opportunities to partner with service providers to establish residential treatment options.
In a statewide assessment, Wisconsin law enforcement in nearly every county in the state reported that human trafficking occurs in their community. Recognizing this growing problem, in September 2017 Attorney General Schimel established the Human Trafficking Bureau within the Division of Criminal Investigation. The bureau provides a coordinated statewide strategy to identify, target, and prosecute traffickers in order to combat human trafficking and provide needed assistance to survivors. From September 2017 to January 1, 2018, the DOJ Human Trafficking Bureau has:
- Conducted 23 child and adult sex trafficking investigations;
- Arrested 15 child and adult sex traffickers;
- Arrested six “Johns;”
- Recovered 20 adult sex trafficking victims; and
- Recovered four child sex trafficking victims.
DOJ and the Wisconsin Crime Victims Council also are working with industries that have a workforce well-positioned to see, recognize, and report human trafficking, such as the hospitality or trucking industry. In 2018, the council and DOJ will:
- Develop industry-specific tools for the shopping mall workforce, where traffickers often engage in recruitment of vulnerable youth;
- Develop industry-specific tools for the transportation and busing industry;
- Continue working with the hospitality industry’s workforce to recognize and report human trafficking; and
- Continue working with Truckers Against Trafficking.
DOJ and DCF encourage rural, urban, suburban and tribal public agency executives and business owners, to download and display anti-human trafficking posters. The posters can be downloaded at no cost online. For more information about human trafficking in Wisconsin, and how you can help individuals who have been trafficked, go to www.BeFreeWisconsin.com.
To view the Child Sex Trafficking and Exploitation Indicator and Response Guide, including contact information to report suspected sex trafficking or sexual exploitation of a child for all 72 counties and 11 tribes in Wisconsin, go to https://dcf.wisconsin.gov/files/aht/pdf/indicatorguide.pdf