I appreciate your coverage of the discussion at the University of Toledo about human trafficking (“Portman: Treat teens in sex trade as victims; Finding runaways urged as priority,” Feb. 8).
As a retired agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation with some knowledge of human trafficking, I feel that any efforts to create public awareness of this national scourge, which affects northwest Ohio, can be helpful. The urgency needed to attack this problem is great.
Your article accurately indicated that missing children referred to as runways all too often become victims exploited for human trafficking, which has become the second largest and the fastest growing criminal industry in the world.
As Celia Williamson, a UT professor of social work who took part in the discussion, has determined, about 3,000 children a year in Ohio are at risk of being the victims of human trafficking. And of those, nearly 1,000 are enslaved by human traffickers.
Runaways have a dangerously short period of time before they are approached by human traffickers. Your article stated that a runaway is likely to be recruited into sex trafficking within two years of leaving home.
But Ms. Williamson said that the window of time before these runaways are approached is two weeks in northwest Ohio, and almost any other part of the United States.
It is urgent to find missing children before they become the victims of human trafficking, which is modern-day slavery.