This article was originally published on chattanoogan.com.
Today, on Human Trafficking Awareness and Prevention Day by Presidential proclamation, Tennessee announces a collaboration between non-government organization agencies in each of Tennessee’s four regions. The Tennessee Anti-Slavery Alliance ensures quality protective services are provided to local human trafficking victims in the most effective and efficient way possible, said officials.
This organized effort is a direct answer to the need for a response system for trafficking survivors— in coordination with Governor Haslam’s “Tennessee Human Trafficking Services Coordination and Delivery Plan.” This plan is a statewide response to the increased dedication to end human trafficking in Tennessee.
“It’s extremely important that the state of Tennessee is unified in the response to and prevention of human trafficking in all forms,” said Jerry Redman, CEO of Second Life Chattanooga. “We’re proud to be part of this effort here in the Greater Chattanooga Southeast Tennessee region and will continue to build awareness and support victims of human trafficking with the help of our partners through The Tennessee Anti-Slavery Alliance.”
The trafficking of minors for sex is happening every day in Tennessee. Nearly every county in Tennessee has reported at least one case of human trafficking, and on average 94 children are trafficked in the state every month. The average age of entry into sex trafficking is 13-years-old.
“Second Life works directly with law enforcement in regards to finding and helping human trafficking victims effectively and efficiently,” said Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond. “On behalf of the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office, we support The Tennessee Anti-Slavery Alliance and are committed to continuing efforts to end human trafficking.”
Tennessee received an “A” for the strength of its human trafficking laws on the Shared Hope International’s Protected Innocence Challenge 2016 report card. However, the study sites that “the lack of specific protective responses may leave them vulnerable.”
“Training on the issue of human trafficking has become incredibly important,” said Chattanooga police Chief Fred Fletcher. “For service providers, including law enforcement across the state of Tennessee to be uniting together as one to combat trafficking and protect victims is a powerful statement. We are ready to continue the fight alongside of Second Life and support The Tennessee Anti-Slavery Alliance to the best of our abilities.”
The Tennessee Anti-Slavery Alliance consists of four non-profit organizations that are dedicated to supporting the identification and recovery of human trafficking victims. The organizations manage all human trafficking referrals in their designated region, while providing on-the-ground comprehensive, specialized support for victims and their families. They assist law enforcement agencies in sting operations, ensuring victims receive medical and mental health support, safe housing, healing within survivor communities, substance abuse recovery, legal services, legislative assistance and job training, among other services.
“We work closely with Second Life and fully support The Tennessee Anti-Slavery Alliance to help bring greater awareness to the victims of human trafficking across the state,” said Valerie Radu, executive director of the Family Justice Center. “Each case of human trafficking is different and our mission is to serve the victims by getting them the mental and medical support they need to heal.”