Milwaukee, Wisc. – June 23, 2014 – In a collective effort to grow awareness and encourage prevention of human trafficking in Milwaukee, the Human Trafficking Task Force of Greater Milwaukee (HTTFGM), Milwaukee County, City of Milwaukee, Milwaukee Health Department, United Way of Greater Milwaukee, Clear Channel and Servehave partnered to launch the “Unlucky Thirteen” campaign at a press conference tomorrow, June 24, at 10:13 a.m. at the bus shelter on Wisconsin Ave, between 8th and 9th. To maximize attention around the event and the issue, supporters have also organized a flash mob to take place leading up to the news conference. Beginning at 9:30 a.m. participants will line Wisconsin Avenue, carrying informational signs and wearing cause-related shirt depicting the number “13”.
The effort aims to help prevent human trafficking in Wisconsin and draws its name from research released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) citing that 13 is the average age a person starts being trafficked for sex. While actual human trafficking numbers for Milwaukee and the state of Wisconsin are debated, the Wisconsin Office of Justice Assistance compiled a full report on the state of human trafficking in the city. Additionally, Attorney General J. B. Van Hollen has been quoted confirming that cases of human trafficking have been documented in all 72 counties in Wisconsin.
“Across Milwaukee County, we see the impact this crime has on families, communities and the victims. If we don’t intervene and educate the masses on this public health epidemic, it will continue to impact us all in alarming ways,” said Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele, who has championed the initiative.
“In the spirit of community, we each have a responsibility to one another to ensure that Milwaukee remains a placemade of opportunity and dreams for every single young person. That is why we are stepping up in Milwaukee to take a lead in fighting this global problem. We must work together as a city and as families to stay vigilant and keep our loved ones and fellow neighbors safe,” said Mayor of Milwaukee Tom Barrett.
To promote awareness of the problem, Serve Marketing is launching the campaign with a series of evocative bus shelter public service announcements and digital billboards, as well as online, social media and guerilla efforts to spread awareness and mobilize advocacy.
Bus shelter PSA’s are going up today at 60 bus shelters across the city. These ads depict the number “13” superimposed over the faces of children who tragically represent the age of a person who is typically trafficked in Wisconsin. In addition, a website called UnluckyThirteen.org has been launched to create an online resource for the residents of Milwaukee. The cite provides a deeper understanding of the problem, offers ways for people to helpthose in need and tips on how to minimize risks of human trafficking. Social media outlets will help promote sharing of the message and drive momentum of the campaign by asking people to change their profile pictures to that of the number “13” on beginning tomorrow and for the rest of the month. Chalk stencil outlines with the number “13” have also popped up throughout the city of over the past weekend in order to spur interest and curiosity prior to the campaign launch.
“We have found that a majority of people do not even realize that human trafficking is a problem on a local level, so the first step is building awareness,” said Serve Founder Gary Mueller. “Our ultimate goal is for this campaign is to make parents and teens aware of the warning signs, so that we can keep kids in Milwaukee safe this summer.”
Speaking at the press conference in support of the campaign are Milwaukee City Health Commissioner Bevan Baker,Dana World-Patterson Chairperson of HTTFGM , two survivors of human trafficking, Market President from Clear Channel David Ford and Milwaukee Country Executive Chris Abele, who continues to be the champion of this initiative.
“This campaign was launched in conjunction with the first week of summer, because this is the season when kids are outside and unsupervised the most,” said Milwaukee County Executive, Chris Abele. “We implore parents to communicate with their children to help ensure they are happy, healthy, and safe in one of the best summer cities in the world.”
UnluckyThirteen.org includes a list of tips for families to help ensure safety during a summer season when children are most vulnerable. If you do suspect someone is a victim of human trafficking, and you think there is a threat of immediate harm to a victim, call 911.
According to the Wisconsin Office of Justice Assistance, there have been 200 identified cases of human trafficking in Wisconsin. In these cases, 75 percent were victims of sex trafficking, and 15 percent were child victims of commercial sexual exploitation (younger than 18 years). The majority of these victims are runaway or thrown-away youths who live on the streets and become victims of prostitution engaging in “survival sex” trading sex for food or shelter. Others are abducted and often times families or friends are involved.
“Local awareness of human trafficking is gaining traction, but we still have ground to cover. This means that therecognition of the warning signs remains incredibly important,” said Dana World-Patterson Chairperson ofHTTFGM. “We want everyone in Milwaukee to not only recognize that the problem exists, but also understand how to identify it and what they can do. When that happens through this campaign, the Human Trafficking Task Force of Greater Milwaukee will be one step closer to our goal of eradicating human trafficking.”
The campaign officially launches tomorrow, June 24, 2014. For more information, please visit UnluckyThirteen.org. People are also encouraged to become a fan of the Human Trafficking Task Force of Greater Milwaukee atFacebook.com/HTTFGM, and follow at Twitter.com/HTTFGM.
Human Trafficking Task Force of Greater Milwaukee (HTTFGM)
The HTTFGM is the community response to eradicating human trafficking through coordinated services, education & awareness, and informed policy change. Our mission is eradicating human trafficking through coordinated services, education & awareness, and informed policy change.
The Human Trafficking Task Force of Greater Milwaukee first convened to draft recommendations aimed at improving the local response to human trafficking. Community feedback led to the formation of subcommittees to address four specific areas of concern: public awareness, service provision, education, and legislation. A final report of Task Force recommendations was presented to the County Board of Supervisors during the fall 2012.
The City of Milwaukee’s Office of Violence Prevention and its Milwaukee Commission on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault are partners of the Task Force.
Serve is the country’s only all-volunteer, nonprofit advertising agency, whose mission is to give under-served charitable causes a stronger voice in the community. Since 2002, Serve volunteers have created behavior-
Changing public service campaigns for over 50 local and national non-profit causes from Shaken Baby Syndrome, statutory rape and teen homelessness to foster care, gun violence and teen pregnancy. Most recently, Serve’s work was honored by the White House for its role in helping reduce teen pregnancy in Milwaukee by 50 percent over the past six years. For more information, go to ServeMarketing.org.