CLINTON — A series of events are planned in the Clinton area to observe Human Trafficking Awareness Month.
The Franciscan Peace Center Anti-Trafficking Committee is teaming up with local governments and businesses to help prevent sexual exploitation in the community.
“Approximately 300,000 children are at risk of being prostituted yearly in the United States, Franciscan Peace Center Outreach Director Lori Freudenberg said in a media release. “People are often shocked to learn that the average age of entry into prostitution is 13 years old. It is crucial to get informed about the risks and signs to prevent this from happening to our children.”
Camanche Mayor Trevor Willis on Thursday read a proclamation declaring January 2019 as National Human Trafficking Awareness Month. A similar proclamation is scheduled to be read and signed at the Jan. 8 Clinton City Council meeting.
Sisters of St. Francis President Jan Cebula and Clinton Mayor Mark Vulich, at 4 p.m. Jan. 9 will announce the kick off of a program to train area hotel employees. The release states it is estimated 75 percent of sex trafficking occurs in hotels and motels. The purpose of the training is to help hotels identify if human trafficking is taking place at their establishment so customers can be assured it is a family friendly environment. The Coalition on Human Trafficking has trained 17 local volunteers who will conduct the program in Clinton.
A short film, “Oblivious,” will be screened at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 17 at Clinton Community College. The film will be followed by a panel discussion on ways to keep children safe from traffickers. Featured speakers will include Clinton County Sheriff’s Office representative Jessup Schroeder, Office of the Attorney General of Iowa Victim Rights and Human Trafficking Coordinator Gretchen Brown-Waech and Partnership for a Drug-Free Iowa Executive Director Peter Komendowski.
“Parents need to talk to their kinds,” Komendowski said in the media release. “This isn’t just about policing their phone and having the right apps, it’s about building that relationship with their children so they know not to go to the sites that are dangerous.”
Statistics from the National Human Trafficking Hotline indicate that as of June 30, the state had seen 110 calls to the hotline, with 38 human trafficking cases reported. The statistics are based on phone calls, emails and webforms received by the National Human Trafficking Hotline that reference Iowa.