Vern Buchanan Secures Funds to Help Sarasota Group Helping Victims of Human Trafficking

On Thursday, U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., announced the U.S. Justice Department is sending more than $750,000 to Selah Freedom, which is based in Sarasota, to help the victims of human trafficking.

“Selah Freedom is a leading national anti-sex trafficking organization ‘with the mission to end sex trafficking and bring freedom to the exploited,’” Buchanan’s office noted.

“Human trafficking is a vile and monstrous crime against women and children,” Buchanan said. “This funding will be especially impactful in a state like Florida, a hub for human trafficking.  I will continue to work with organizations like Selah Freedom to end this vile form of modern-day slavery.”

Last month, Buchanan paired up with U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., to bring out a bill to crack down on human trafficking.

Hastings brought out the “Human Trafficking and Exploitation Prevention Training Act” which would have the Office of Trafficking in Persons, in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), create grants to offer “training for students, teachers and other school personnel on the warning signs of human trafficking.” The bill would fund the grants with $75 million over a five year period.

“These grants would be issued by non-profit organizations that have shown expertise in creating and teaching human trafficking and exploitation prevention curricula. The bill also prioritizes funding for non-profits serving geographic areas with the highest prevalence of human trafficking,” the congressmen’s offices noted.

Besides Buchanan, there were two other cosponsors in the Florida delegation in U.S. Rep. Greg Steube, R-Fla., and U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla.

When they brought out the bill, the congressmen noted that more than half of the victims of human trafficking are children and Florida ranks third among states when it comes to it. They also noted the number of human trafficking cases went up 25 percent last year.

“While awareness about human trafficking and exploitation has increased, prevention efforts are lacking. To protect our children, it is imperative that we educate students, teachers, and school personnel to recognize the dangers of trafficking and exploitation, not just to protect children from traffickers, but also to prevent potential traffickers and abusers from exploiting others in the future,” Hastings said.

“Human trafficking is a vile and monstrous crime against women and children,” Buchanan said. “Educating students and teachers about the warning signs is critical to addressing the problem. This is especially important in hot spots for human trafficking like Florida. I look forward to working with Congressman Hastings and organizations like the Selah Way Foundation to end this modern-day slavery.”

 

Reach Kevin Derby at kevin.derby@floridadaily.com.

 

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