(COLUMBUS, Ohio) – Attorney General Mike DeWine today urged Ohioans to learn more about the physical and emotional abuse of children and how to prevent abuse as National Child Abuse Prevention Month gets under way.
"Fortunately, the majority of Ohio's children enjoy the nurturing of safe and loving homes," said Attorney General DeWine. "But, sadly, we continue to confront the abuse of children all too often. Recently, Ohio has seen several tragic cases, including the deaths of Makayla Norman in Dayton and DeMarcus Jackson in Cincinnati."
Attorney General DeWine has worked on several fronts to make Ohio children safe, including holding a series of Child Safety Summits across the state to review the foster care system in Ohio. "Too many of these children are languishing in foster care with no real hope of ever having a permanent loving home," said DeWine.
Representatives from foster care agencies, law enforcement, advocacy groups, prosecutors' offices, and adoption agencies attend the summits. The next two will take place on Wednesday, April 4, in Columbus, and on April 19 in Dayton.
In the U.S. Senate, DeWine authored language in the 1997 Adoption and Safe Families Act clarifying laws that in issues of family reunification, the best interests of the child always have to come first.
In August 2011, Attorney General DeWine also reconvened the Ohio Human Trafficking Commission, to continue the Ohio Trafficking in Persons Study that had completed its statutory requirements. A preliminary report on the scope of the problem in Ohio cited 13 as the most common age in Ohio for youth to become victims of child sex trafficking. From the study's sample of 207 individuals, 49 percent were under 18 when they were first trafficked.
The Commission includes elected and appointed officials, members of local, state, and federal law enforcement, public and private social agencies, religious groups, and schools who meet regularly to understand the extent of the problem in Ohio, find ways to help victims, and discover how to investigate and prosecute traffickers.
Attorney General DeWine joined Gov. John Kasich last week for the governor's signing of an executive order creating a Human Trafficking Task Force. The Commission and the Task Force will work together to continue to strengthen Ohio's efforts to combat the sex trade and forced labor of human trafficking in Ohio.
Ohioans are encouraged to be on the lookout for signs of human trafficking and to report their concerns to BCI by calling 1-855-BCI-OHIO (224-6446).
To learn more about spotting and preventing child abuse and human trafficking, and helping victims, please visit www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov, www.facebook.com/ohiohumantraffickingcommission, or call 1-800-282-0515.