State Senator Andy Dinniman joined his legislative colleagues and officials from the Pennsylvania Psychological Association (PPA), PennDOT, and the Pennsylvania State Police this week to discuss ongoing efforts to combat human trafficking.
“Pennsylvania has taken important steps to end the scourge of human trafficking,” Dinniman said. “But there is more work to be done, and we can succeed in doing it and putting an end to this modern-day slave trade by bringing together legislators, social service professionals, and law enforcement as we have done here today.”
Dinniman’s comments came during a rally in the state capitol rotunda organized by PPA to condemn human trafficking and describe the coordinated efforts taken by multiple agencies and organizations to eradicate it.
According to Krista Bower, executive director of the PPA, human trafficking alone victimizes more than five million children worldwide and produces more than $150 billion in illegal profits. People are aware of its evil and its size and scope, but “we can and must do more,” she said.
David Rogers, president of the PPA Board of Directors, explained how psychologists are filling a gap for Mandarin-speakers who are victims of human trafficking but have difficulty communicating with authorities due to language barriers. PPA worked together with the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) to develop a card that enables officers to ask simple and important questions in Mandarin to help identify potential victims.
Rogers added that PPA also distributes multilingual flyers to publicize the National Human Trafficking Hotline, and PPA is partnering with the Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association to train staff how to identify potential signs of human trafficking.
Kurt Myers, PennDOT’s Deputy Secretary of Driver and Vehicle Services, said that drivers’ license center employees are being trained to observe signs of human trafficking and trained to report them to proper authorities. According to Myers, 500 field employees and 37 transit center leaders have received significant training in the area. Myers also said that Pennsylvania’s trucker residents, who number more than 400,000, are being contacted by PennDOT to help identify and report potential cases of human trafficking.
According to Lt. Harold Rinker of the PSP, human trafficking is the world’s fastest-growing criminal business and will probably soon surpass firearms and narcotics trafficking as the world’s largest criminal business.