Mercy Health to host Human Trafficking Awareness Conference

Press Staff Writer

        In 2017, an estimated one of seven endangered runaways reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children were likely child sex trafficking victims.
        In order to educate the community about the topic and raise awareness about the resources available in the community, Mercy Health – Toledo is hosting its inaugural Human Trafficking Awareness Conference, which will be held in Mercy Health – St. Vincent Medical Center’s main auditorium on Wednesday, Jan. 15 from 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
        The conference will be led by the Mercy Health – Toledo Trauma Recovery Center, and will include speakers who are more than just experts on the topic, but also have a direct line in prevention and rescuing victims.
        According to Homeland Security, human trafficking involves the use of force, fraud or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act.
        “Many people do not realize how big the human trafficking industry is; people are affected by it every day,” said OraLee Macklenar, supervisor of Mercy Health – Toledo Trauma Recovery Center. “It can happen to anyone, anywhere, at any time. So, by educating yourself on the topic you can protect yourself and others.”
        Attendees will listen to various presenters, including Lucas County Sheriff John Tharp and representatives from the Lucas County D.A.R.T Unit, who will discuss what human trafficking is and the correlation between the industry and runaways.
        In addition, The University of Toledo Human Trafficking and Social Justice Institute, led by Dr. Celia Williamson, will be broaching the topic of social justice for victims and education.
        Other speakers from the Lucas County Human Trafficking Coalition, and Ladonna Knabbs of the F.R.E.E. Program (Foundation Readiness Education and Employment) will also address attendees.
        “This is a topic that makes people uncomfortable, and we know how sensitive it is. However, it is also a conversation we want people to have,” said Charnique King, Coordinator of Community Outreach and Victim Advocate at the Mercy Health – Toledo Trauma Recovery Center. “We want to help everyone fully understand the reality of the situation. We are hoping to ignite a conversation, and raise awareness about the dangers of human trafficking.”
        There is no cost to attend the event, but seating is limited. To RSVP, call 888-987-6372 or email  Two free CEUs will be offered for attendance from 10 a.m. - 12:30 p.m., pending board approval (Ohio Counselor, Social Worker, and Marriage & Family Therapist Board). Contact hours for nurses will be awarded with successful completion, as well. RSVP by Monday, Jan.13 and specify if you will be attending for CEUs when registering.
        How to help
        Recognize the signs of human trafficking. If you or someone you love is a victim of human trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline, 1-888-373-7888 or text “HELP”


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