Professionals and practitioners with varied backgrounds unite to problem solve, to advocate and to combat human trafficking at the oldest academic human trafficking conference in the U.S., continues to expand since its creation in 2004.
Judges, lawyers, social workers, healthcare workers, professors, and students will gather Thursday and Friday, September 21 and 22 at the 14th Annual International Human Trafficking and Social Justice Conference at the University of Toledo, hosted by The Lucas County Human Trafficking Coalition in partnership with UT’s Human Trafficking and Social Justice Institute.
Sandy Sieben, a professor visiting UT’s social work department, conference planner and one of the co-chairs of the coalition explains,“Toledo is very unique. We have a great partnership with the coalition. There is more research being done,” Sieben continues, “Every year the conference, updates in research and advances in the law are covered.”
With 95 presentations covering a range of topics, there are international guests, both attendees, and presenters, this year. from Nigeria, Liberia, Spain and the United Kingdom. There will also be 40 vendors on site at the conference from local to international organizations.
On Wednesday, Sept., 20th, the conference will open to high school students only. Sieben said 500 high schoolers are expected to attend. “They learn about human trafficking,” she said, “the warning signs and how they can become advocates in the community.”
The conference connects youth with adults and college students with professionals. “The coolest thing is to see how community partners come together,” Sieben said. “It’s about networking.”
Celia Williamson, executive director of the Human Trafficking & Social Justice Institute at UT and conference organizer, said “This conference is an amazing experience where we see a person connect to a new thought, the heart open to vulnerable and stigmatized people, individuals find commonalities across the globe the brain challenged to think a new way, and where great community collaborations begin.”
The conference has had a major impact on legislation in the past. In June 2012, the Ohio Legislature passed House Bill 262, Ohio’s Safe Harbor Law, which treats juveniles charged with prostitution as victims. Rep. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) and Williamson worked together with other legislators, survivors and service providers to pass that bill.
Toledo ranks fourth in the nation when it comes to human trafficking and the conference is a way to help the community communicate and problem solve all as one. “We have a big issue here,” Sieben said, “but it’s being worked on. We have people doing something about it.”
8:30am-5pm. Thursday-Friday, September 21-22.
$90/individual rate (1 day), $175/individual rate (2 days), $80/group rate (1 day with four or more people), $155/group rate (2 days with four or more people), Free/All UT students, faculty, staff and all international guests, reduced rate/students from other colleges and universities.
The University of Toledo Student Union, 2525 Student Union.
The Lucas County Human Trafficking Coalition meets the third Wednesday every month at the Kent Branch Library from 9-11am. Free and open to the public. There will not be a meeting in September.
If you have a tip, concerns or would like to report suspicious activity, please call the national trafficking hotline at 1-888-3737-888 or text HELP to 233733(BEFREE).