Ohio Moves to Root Out Human Trafficking

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Last Thursday Ohio’s Republican Governor John Kasich announced a $5 million initiative to reduce the risk of violence from those with mental health issues.

The very next day Alan Johnson of the Columbus Dispatch reported that Kasich took part in a human trafficking awareness event, following on signing legislation last year to combat sex-slavery in Ohio.

“The average age of a runaway is 12, usually a female,” [Officer Ken Lawson, the human trafficking liaison for Columbus police] said today at the Human Traffic Awareness Day session at the Ohio Statehouse. “How does a 12-year old girl stay away from home for any length of time? She has help, right? And then they want something in return for that help.”

A state commission estimated there are more than 1,000 children trafficked for sex in Ohio annually with 3,000 more at risk.

Linda Smith, head of Shared Hope International, a group that focuses on minor trafficking victims, said the problem will remain as long as there are customers – mainly men – who pay to have sex with minors.

“There is an underground market for American youth that is driven by demand,” she said.

Ohio lawmakers passed and Kasich signed a law last year providing a “safe harbor” for minors who are sold in prostitution. The law also somewhat toughened prosecution for “johns” who pay for sex.

Governor Kasich Signs Safe Harbor Law

Governor Kasich signs the safe harbor law in Toledo.

Until June of last year, the girls who were trapped in the sex trade were treated as criminals if they managed to escape and go to authorities. They had, after all, been working as prostitutes. Clearly an area where the law utterly failed the needs to society. Thankfully, that was changed. In June the Ohio General Assembly passed and Governor Kasich signed into law a measure that both toughens the penalties on those convicted of human trafficking, and “treats juveniles who are charged with prostitution as victims and allows them to have criminal charges expunged if they go through a diversion program for treatment, counseling, and other services.”

Good steps to make the law more humane. More, please. Too many lives are being shattered by this awful vice.

The views expressed here are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views of CatholicVote.org

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Tom Crowe is a cradle Catholic with a deep love for and commitment to Holy Mother the Church, colored by a rather interesting life-long relationship with her. Born during the great liturgical upheaval of the 1970s, Crowe was brought up in a parish that continued using the Missal of 1962—the Traditional Latin Mass—for which he developed a love. Crowe learned the faith as a child from the Baltimore Catechism, and didn’t stop learning and wrestling with the Church’s teachings at his Confirmation. Through reading and many conversations with friends and converts far smarter than he, Crowe came to know, accept, and love the Church and what she proposes far more intimately. For three years these conversation took place in seminary before Crowe, with the blessing of the formation team, determined that seminary was not right for him. In the wild and humorous ways of God, Crowe landed on his feet in Steubenville, Ohio, where he manages the online presence for Franciscan University of Steubenville, where he also trains altar servers and is the head master of ceremonies for the Mass in the Extraordinary Form on campus.

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