Iowa Law Enforcement, Community Advocates and Clear Channel Outdoor Unite to Combat Human Trafficking
DES MOINES, IOWA – May 14, 2015 – Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: CCO), together with local, state, and federal law enforcement in central Iowa, today unveiled an out-of-home media campaign to combat human trafficking. For the next four weeks, 30 Clear Channel Outdoor Americas (CCOA) digital billboards will display educational messages across Polk County about human trafficking. The billboards alert victims on how to “get help to get out” of the life through the help of community resources.
“We want to hold human traffickers accountable in Iowa, and we hope this collaborative public awareness effort will help us rescue victims and pursue traffickers on our streets and highways,” explained Attorney General Tom Miller. “Human traffickers try to keep a low profile. The more eyes we have to help us identify traffickers and their victims, the better off we are.”
As a form of slavery, human trafficking involves the illegal trade of people for commercial gain. Traffickers use force, fraud, or coercion to lure their victims and force them into labor or commercial sexual exploitation. Victims rarely come forward because of language barriers or because they fear traffickers and law enforcement.
In 2014, the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) hotline fielded 24 reports of human trafficking in Iowa, with more than half involving minors. Since 2007, the hotline has received reports of nearly 100 incidents. The International Labor Organization (ILO) estimates that there are 21 million people worldwide who are victims of forced labor. Of those, ILO estimates that 4.5 million are victims of forced sexual exploitation.
“Human trafficking is found in our own communities regardless of socio-economic status,” said Terry Hernandez, executive director of the Chrysalis Foundation. “In Iowa, we find foster care children and runways are particularly vulnerable to the commercial sex industry; for Chrysalis, our concern is for girls in our after-school programs across the metro area. Our goal is to collaborate with local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies to prevent victimization, and recover and provide a path for healing for victims of human trafficking.”
“Chrysalis is grateful to be partnering with Clear Channel and Iowa’s law enforcement leadership as we work to unmask this epidemic in our society. This partnership is a major step in providing prevention, awareness, advocacy and victim recognition within our communities,” added Hernandez.
The digital billboard messages inform trafficking victims who may be unaware that resources exist to help them and urge the public to report suspicious activity. The ads direct passersby to the NHTRC’s 24-hour, multi-lingual, and confidential hotline for victims and community members.
According to FBI Omaha Field Office Acting Special Agent Thomas Metz, “The FBI, in conjunction with its state and local law enforcement partners will continue to work hard to combat human trafficking. It is a destructive crime impacting not only its victims but society as a whole. Detecting human trafficking is essential to stopping it and an awareness initiative like the one commencing today will work toward uncovering this grievous crime.”
CCOA launched its first anti-human trafficking campaign in Philadelphia in 2012 and has since supported campaigns in Baltimore, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Milwaukee, New Jersey, New York, Phoenix, San Francisco, Seattle, and across the entire state of Texas and Indiana. This is CCOA’s 17th anti-human trafficking campaign. The data shows that these campaigns drive calls to the hotline, including tips and requests by victims for help.
“We are proud to be part of such an important campaign to raise awareness of human trafficking in Des Moines and beyond. Billboards and other outdoor media are a powerful way to reach people while also targeting specific audiences, and Clear Channel has a long history of working with law enforcement, government agencies and nonprofits on myriad public safety and community building initiatives,” Tim Jameson, president, CCOA-Des Moines, noted.
“Modern slavery is a pervasive scourge that affects all of us in all of our communities. Knowing there is help and a safe place to go is an important first step in surviving slavery, so we all hope this Polk County campaign will be a strong and visible step forward in the fight against this important problem,” concluded Jameson.
The outdoor media campaign is a joint effort involving CCOA-Des Moines, the Office of the Attorney General of Iowa, the United States Attorney’s Office-Southern District of Iowa, Des Moines Police Department, Polk County Sheriff’s Office, Iowa State Patrol, and the FBI.
About Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings, Inc.
Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: CCO) is one of the world’s largest outdoor advertising companies with more than 640,000 displays in over 40 countries across Asia, Australia, Europe, Latin America and North America. Reaching millions of people monthly, including consumers in 45 of the top 50 U.S. markets, Clear Channel Outdoor enables advertisers to engage with consumers through innovative advertising solutions. Clear Channel Outdoor is pioneering the integration of out-of-home with mobile and social platforms, and the company’s digital platform includes over 1,110 digital billboards across 38 markets in North America and over 4,700 digital displays in international markets. More information is available at www.clearchanneloutdoor.com and www.clearchannelinternational.com.
A public foundation supporting girls and women in the greater Des Moines area since 1989, Chrysalis funds after-school programs for over 700 girls in metro-area schools, and nonprofit organizations working with girls and women in Greater Des Moines. Chrysalis serves as the lead agency in prevention and public awareness for the Iowa Attorney General’s Human Trafficking Enforcement and Prosecution Initiative.
About the National Human Trafficking Resource Center
The National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC), operated by Polaris, a leader in the global fight to eradicate modern slavery, is a confidential, toll-free lifeline for victims and survivors of human trafficking to reach out for help and for people to anonymously report tips of suspected human trafficking. People can call the NHTRC at 1-888-373-7888 or send a text to Polaris at BeFree (233733), 24 hours-a-day, every day of the year. With bilingual staff, the hotline is available in English and Spanish, and in more than 180 languages through the use of interpreters.