New public awareness campaign urges citizens to report human trafficking
September 4, 2013 -- Houston Mayor Annise today called on Houstonians to “Shine a Light on Human Trafficking” at a City Hall press conference. Joining the mayor for her announcement of a new human trafficking public awareness campaign were members of the Human Trafficking Task Force and City officials. The mayor’s launch of the City’s “Shine a Light on Human Trafficking” campaign coincides with September's observance of Human Trafficking Awareness Month.
“Human trafficking is a crime that impacts children and adults around the world, in cities across the nation and in our very own communities here in Houston,” said Mayor Parker. “Today we join forces with HPD and the Harris County Sheriff’s office, calling on all citizens to shine a light on this problem. We want to put a stop to human trafficking and we need your help.”
Mayor Parker will kick off the campaign at City Hall on September 24, 6:30 p.m. till dusk. The evening will feature community gatherings at other locations, including the Houston Galleria and neighborhood centers throughout the city. HTV will present a live broadcast the mayor’s kickoff at City Hall, which will be viewed by event participants at the community sites. The events will focus on informing citizens about human trafficking and actions they can take to help solve the problem in their own communities.
“Shine a Light on Human Trafficking” is a long-term campaign that will utilize community engagement strategies recommended by the mayor’s Human Trafficking Task Force. The campaign seeks to increase public awareness of the problem, provide citizens with easy to understand information on how to recognize the signs of human trafficking and encourage them to report suspicious situations to authorities.
The campaign features a television public service announcement by Mayor Parker, Houston Police Chief Charles McClelland and Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia. A series of educational events will take place this month as part of the campaign kickoff. Among special events is the screening of “Sunny Square,” a film about human trafficking set in Houston, followed by discussion on the problem with Mayor Parker and a panel of experts. Other events and initiatives are planned as part of this long-range campaign.
Known as “modern day slavery,” human trafficking is defined as the buying and selling of people for the purpose of forced, defrauded or coerced services, labor or sex. The crime includes the victimization of adults and children. Houston is considered a hub for human trafficking. In 2012, 9.2 percent of all calls to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline originated in Texas, comprising the second highest in the country. A majority of those calls originated in Houston.
“Shine a Light on Human Trafficking” is an initiative of the Office of International Communities (OIC), a division of the Department of Neighborhoods (DON). For a schedule of events and to learn more about the campaign, visit www.shinealighthouston.org. For information about OIC and DON, visit www.houstontx.gov/neighborhoods.