State agencies use Super Bowl and multi-media campaign to educate and raise awareness of human trafficking

State agencies use Super Bowl and multi-media campaign to educate and raise awareness of Human...
State agencies use Super Bowl and multi-media campaign to educate and raise awareness of Human Trafficking(azfamily)
Published: Dec. 9, 2022 at 5:13 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Gov. Doug Ducey is joining members of the Arizona Human Trafficking Council to raise awareness of human trafficking. A statewide multi-media campaign will now make that easier by providing resources to Arizonans in need.

Maria Fuentes, Executive Director of the Governor’s Office of Youth, Faith and Family, said the state tends to use big events like the upcoming Super Bowl to raise awareness.

“This is not a Super Bowl specific or any industry specific problem, this is a challenge and a crime that exists among us,” said Fuentes.

Claire Sechler Merkel, the Senior Director of the McCain Institute, said the goal is to provide training to help people identify potential human trafficking situations quickly.

“The big events that get a lot of media attention for us are an opportunity for us. An opportunity to talk about the trafficking that goes on every day of the year,” said Sechler Merkel.

According to the United States Department of Justice, in the 2021 fiscal year there were 228 federal human trafficking prosecutions across the nation. That’s up from 210 in 2020.

In order to make a change officials said training will help.

“The Arizona host committee for the super bowl has been kind enough and excited enough about this topic to allow us, the McCain institute, to train their 5,000 volunteers on anti-trafficking before the Super Bowl. In order for them to sign up for a shift for the super bowl, they have to complete a training,” said Sechler Merkel.

That training will last a lifetime, and the organizations are using several platforms to make sure Arizonans also know those key indicators.

“We have things like digital boards, static boards as well as geo-fencing around the airport with social media targeted adds. Distribution of posters in bars, restaurants, rest stops,” said Sechler Merkel.

The campaign will include a new Tip Line to report any signs of criminal or suspicious activity from across the state.

Hotline staff are then trained to contact law enforcement officials, ensuring victims are being safely located and supported in real time.

“We’ve trained over 50,000 people in various industries where we know higher vulnerabilities can exist so training and raising that awareness in law enforcement, education, business, hospitality is a very important part of what we do,” said Fuentes.

Ducey addressed the work being done ahead of the Super Bowl in a statement:

“Thanks to the collaborative efforts of the Council and state agencies, Arizona’s youth, our tribal nations, and our entire state are able to join the fight in combating this horrific issue. Anyone can be a victim, but together we can ensure we are doing all we can to protect victims and stop human trafficking throughout our state.”

If anyone is in immediate danger always call 911. If you suspect someone might need help you can call the new tip line at 1-877-4AZ-TIPS.