CINCINNATI (FOX19) - A major engagement campaign launched Wednesday in Cincinnati to fight sex trafficking and prostitution in the region.
BLOC Ministries announced the campaign at Cincinnati City Hall with Vice Mayor Chris Smitherman and community leaders.
The “I’m NOT 4 Sale! — See Something? Say Something!” campaign reportedly consists of 24 billboards across the region designed to create awareness of sex trafficking and prostition in Greater Cincinnati. It also involves the launch of a website, a social media effort and promotional wear.
With the campaign, community members can make reports about sex trafficking and prostitution by filling out an anonymous online reporting form or calling The Salvation Army hotline number: 513.800.1863.
The announcement comes in the aftermath of several horrifying incidents reported in just the last calendar year.
In April 2019, a 16-year-old kidnapped from Kentucky was found in the back of a U-Haul in Mt. Auburn, where police say she was repeatedly raped.
Just five months later in Lockland, police say a five-year-old boy was raped in his home, and pornographic images of him were sold online.
According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, in 2019 there were 425 of these types of cases documented in the state of Ohio, ranking it fifth in the country for human trafficking.
“Yes, it’s in our own backyard, and it’s hard for people to even grasp that,” BLOC Ministries Director of Public Relations Warner Allen said.
Allen explains there’ no specific face to the victims of sex trafficking.
“It could be your son, it could be your daughter,” he said. “Even the Johns who engage in sex trafficking and the purchasing of sex. This is a clear, serious problem.”
Allen adds drug addiction is often connected to the issue, that an addict with nothing left to sell or steal might sell their partner, their child or themselves for drugs or money.
“No child says, ‘I want to grow up to be a prostitute,' or, ‘I want to be involved in sex trafficking,’" Allen said. “That’s just not humane. But we have a responsibility as a community to take care of our neighbors. That’s what we’re doing through this campaign.”