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Human trafficking forum set for Saturday in Defiance

The following, written by Lisa Nicely was published October 25, 2013 in the Cresecent News.

Human trafficking forum set for Saturday in Defiance

Community members are the key to ending human trafficking in northwest Ohio.With that in mind, a human trafficking forum will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Buchman board room of the Serrick Center at Defiance College. The free public forum will have local experts talking about prevention and response to human trafficking.

The forum is being sponsored by the Northwest Ohio Rescue and Restore Coalition, Legal Aid of Western Ohio Human Trafficking Protection Project, Family Justice of Northwest Ohio, Defiance College and Children's Lantern.

"We will be looking at how, as a community, we can prevent human trafficking from happening in our area," said Sarah Warpinski, regional coordinator of the Legal Aid of Western Ohio (LAWO) Human Trafficking Protection Project. She said the event's focus will be on identification and prevention of human trafficking -- both labor and sex.

"We want to give people a broader picture of trafficking and how they can join in and help the community stop or prevent trafficking cases," she said. "It (the forum) will be informal. We want people to feel free to ask questions and talk about their concerns or ideas.

"Various hypothetical situations, all based on fact, will be given to show individuals what human trafficking can look like in the region. Some human trafficking statistics, such as 80 percent of trafficking victims in Ohio were born in the state, will also be given.

"There are a number of human trafficking situations in northwest Ohio where a potential victim has been identified or someone who was a victim has sought help," Warpinski said.Speakers will include Laurel Neufield-Weaver of the Northwest Ohio Rescue and Restore Coalition, Warpinski, Defiance College professor Tim Wedge and Alyssa Tracy of Children's Lantern.

Neufield-Weaver will talk about identification of trafficking as well as the coalition's goals to enhance public education, survivor recovery and justice response. The coalition would like to increase collaboration with organizations in 15 northwest Ohio counties which include Defiance, Henry, Paulding, Fulton, Williams and Putnam.

Warpinski will also talk about how to recognize trafficking cases and what is being done in Defiance County. Wedge, who teaches a class on human trafficking, will discuss what drives trafficking on a larger global scale and how that affects northwest Ohio. Tracy will talk about work already being done by Children's Lantern and what the group hopes to accomplish in the future.

Warpinski said organizers are hoping to get at least 50 individuals at the forum.

"We are really looking for a place to start the dialog," she said. "We would like to develop an ongoing way to continue the discussion.

"That may include making the forum an annual event, establishing a community work group, or hosting more intensive training on human trafficking identification.

Individuals at the forum will be given information including the number for the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, a 24-hour anonymous hotline.

Warpinski said she does get referrals from the hotline, but it is all anonymous and the hotline tries to get individuals in contact with the most appropriate services they need whether that be law enforcement, shelters, or the LAWO Human Trafficking Protection Project.

If anyone is unable to attend the forum but would like more information, he or she may contact Warpinski at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call (419) 930-2457.