28 Jan 3 Ways Tampa is Fighting Human Trafficking During Super Bowl 2021
It’s an exciting time to live in Tampa, despite the current pandemic. New restaurants line the sidewalks downtown. The Riverwalk offers opportunities to breathe in the fresh air, walk, run, bike or paddle. The weather right now is some of the best we have all year, and who can forget our sports teams? The Lightning won the Stanley Cup. The Rays are American League champions and went to the World Series. Oh, and how about the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are in the Super Bowl for the first time in 18 years, AND they’re the first NFL team to play at a home stadium! Tampa is thriving.
Yet, with all the fantastic things happening in Tampa and around Florida, the abuse, exploitation, and trafficking of vulnerable people and children is a real and heartbreaking issue prevalent throughout this state.
Florida has the third-highest rate of human trafficking cases reported across the country in 2019 (behind California first and Texas second)*. Tampa ranks 12th of all American cities for the number of calls per capita to the National Human Trafficking Hotline (Polaris).**
With such startling statistics and the Super Bowl around the corner, I wanted to find out more about what Tampa is doing to raise awareness. I also wanted to explore what information I could pass along, regardless of where you live, to help our communities assist in this fight.
What is Tampa doing locally?
Here are a few things I found:
- On January 11th, It’s a Penalty launched a 2021 Super Bowl campaign. It partnered with the Super Bowl host committee, the Hillsborough County Commission on Human Trafficking, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the NFL. Along with local, state, and federal agencies. This campaign aims to educate sports fans, equip them and the general public on ways to report suspicious activity, and encourage everyone to speak up. I encourage everyone to read and share the information within this site.
- The Florida Attorney General and It’s a Penalty joined the Tampa International Airport to create digital signage placed around airport concourses. Its purpose is to encourage visitors to note suspicious activity and report it using a specific number to call or text.
- The American Hotel & Lodging Foundation (AHLA Foundation), in partnership with the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association (FRLA), announced the launch of its “No Room for Trafficking” program. This national awareness campaign strives to elevate, assess, educate and support the fight to end human trafficking by ensuring hotel employees are developing a better understanding of how to identify trackers and potential victims in hotels.
- One of EHN’s partners, Redefining Refuge, and local non-profit, High Hopes in High Heels, designed yard signs that supporters can purchase to place in their yards. They will use these signs to raise awareness concerning the human trafficking fight.
What can you do to get involved and help?
Whether you live in Tampa, Florida, or throughout the United States, it’s essential to learn the facts and know-how to assist your local community best.
“Although human trafficking occurs 365 days of the year, it’s important to mobilize a coordinated response to address the issue during large sporting events like the Super Bowl.” EHN Atlanta advocate Melba Robinson responded. “Empower Her Network cares about the lives that may be impacted by the Super Bowl and are ready to be a part of the solution. We encourage everyone to get involved in the following ways:”
- Learn about the warning signs
- Strengthen your community by letting others know how the Super Bowl, and larger sporting events, can affect the lives of others
- Raise awareness about the issue of human trafficking
- If you would like to “speak,” conduct a training session in conjunction with a local non-profit specializing in human trafficking efforts
- Become involved with organizations that are doing the work to address human trafficking
“These are only a few things one can do to get involved, but every little bit helps,” said Robinson.
I hope that one day everyone can enjoy the same beauty and opportunities around Tampa as most of us can, without pain or fear. It’s a significant task. And while this is an on-going effort, taking the initiative to learn, get involved, and spread critical information to others, is an essential first step.
What questions do you have? Are there any tips that you’d recommend that we should add to our list?
Please visit our website to learn more about Empower Her Network, and how we assist human trafficking survivors. Or connect with us on Instagram, Facebook, Linkedin, or Twitter, to continue the conversation.
*Florida has the third-highest rate of human trafficking cases / **Tampa ranks 12th of all American cities