Dome Lighting In Honor and Recognition of Human Trafficking Awareness Month

BALTIMORE, MD (Friday, January 15, 2021) — This evening, the City Hall dome will be lit blue in honor of Human Trafficking Awareness Month. The dome lighting, requested by Mayor Brandon M. Scott, began yesterday evening, and will remain lit through tonight, January 15.

“As we recognize Human Trafficking Awareness Month, we must remember that our work goes beyond bringing awareness,” said Mayor Brandon M. Scott. “People are not property. We must take direct action to support survivors and put an end to human trafficking for good.”

Between 14,500 and 17,500 individuals are trafficked into the United States each year. Nationally, an estimated 4,457 to 20,995 youths ages 13-17 are involved in the U.S. sex industry. In Maryland, there were over 440 cases of child sex trafficking reported to local Departments of Social Services between July 2013 and July 2018. These reports involved over 375 alleged minor victims, the majority of whom were Maryland residents between the ages of 14-17 years old. In 2019, Maryland documented 187 cases of human trafficking, outpacing the prior years.

The Baltimore City Human Trafficking Collaborative (BCHTC), located within the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement, is a diverse group of stakeholders working in a collaborative effort to combat both sex and labor trafficking in the City of Baltimore by:

  • Raising awareness through education, law enforcement training, and media campaigns;
  • Supporting both State and Federal investigations and prosecutions of traffickers;
  • Supporting human trafficking survivors by providing them access to quality services through a victim-centered, trauma-informed approach.

Councilmember Kristerfer Burnett, a staunch advocate of human trafficking awareness, co-created the Baltimore City Human Trafficking Collaborative in 2017. He most recently joined his BCHTC colleagues to participate in the Red Sand Project, pouring red sand out front of City Hall on Friday January 8th, to signify and honor the victims of human trafficking that metaphorically “fall through the cracks.”

“I’m thankful to have the unanimous support of the Baltimore City Council and backing of Mayor Brandon M. Scott in honoring and remembering the victims and survivors of human trafficking in our city and across the globe during Human Trafficking Awareness Month,” said Councilmember Kristerfer Burnett, who has been a leader on human trafficking awareness on the City Council. “Unfortunately, the work to end human trafficking has never been more important — as the pandemic has further isolated those seeking help and a way out. But we remain steadfast in our work to develop both policy solutions to tackle this issue and providing direct funding to service providers helping some of our most vulnerable residents.”

“Human trafficking victims have many faces and Baltimore has one of the highest rates of human trafficking in our country,” said Shantay Jackson, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement. “The Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement has a dedicated Victim Services team that not only works to provide training and education associated with awareness, but partners to ensure that survivors are provided access to quality services through a victim-centered, trauma-responsive approach. We take our responsibility to provide the necessary preventive and rehabilitative supports seriously. We need everyone in Baltimore to help us end this modern-day slavery.”

According to BCHTC, potential signs of those who may be experiencing trafficking include:

  • Not knowing what city they’re in or where they are;
  • Works long or unusual hours;
  • Sudden access to money or valuables;
  • Signs of physical and/or sexual abuse;
  • Fearful, anxious, depressed, withdrawn;
  • Chronic runaway, missing for long periods of time;
  • Owes unpayable debt.

“Human Trafficking often happens in plain sight yet often goes undetected,” said Kim Sauer, Co-Founder of Fearlessly Loving Yourself Inc. (FLY) a mentor program for girls in Baltimore City. “Human Trafficking Awareness Month is an important time for all of us to educate our community members about what human trafficking is and most importantly, give individuals the tools to spot signs of trafficking and report it. Community awareness supports our continuous efforts in combating labor and sex trafficking in Baltimore City.”

To report a case of suspected human trafficking, please reach out to the National Human Trafficking Hotline: (888) 373-7888. SMS: 233733 (Text “HELP” or “INFO”).