Every Iowan can help stop human trafficking

By Kevin Kinney

January is Human Trafficking Prevention Month. As a deputy sheriff, I worked to stop human trafficking for many years. It?s a tragic crime that destroys lives.

Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery. It happens throughout the country, including in Iowa, which is at the busy crossroads of I-80 and I-35.

Numbers are on the rise, with thousands of cases of human trafficking across America each year. Many victims are children, with kids forced into commercial sex when they are only 12 to 14 years old.

In Iowa, we?re focused on educating law enforcement and citizens to recognize human trafficking, and on getting victims the help they need.

Iowa?s Office to Combat Human Trafficking and Crime Victim Assistance Division will hold a human trafficking summit in April to increase understanding of trafficking, develop a coordinated response and work on how to best help survivors. The conference is geared toward law enforcement, prosecutors, victim service advocates, medical professionals and social workers. It is a result of a human trafficking in Iowa report released last year.

Iowans can help in the effort.

Learn more about human trafficking at the Iowa Attorney General?s site. Then take action:

If you see something suspicious, call 911 to report it.

For victim services, contact the Iowa Helpline at 1-800-770-1650 or text ?IOWAHELP? to 20121.

To report a tip or get help, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.

Kevin Kinney is an Iowa State Senator.