Houston Mayor Annise Parker Wednesday launched a public awareness campaign around the issue of human trafficking.
September is Human Trafficking Awareness Month and the mayor announced the city's "Shine a Light on Human Trafficking," which will kick off on Sept. 24. The evening will feature community gatherings at the Galleria and neighborhood centers around Houston. HTV will present a live broadcast the mayor's kickoff at City Hall, which will be viewed by event participants at the community sites. The events will focus on informing citizens about human trafficking and actions they can take to help solve the problem in their own communities.
Houston is considered a hub for human trafficking. According to the mayor's office, in 2012, 9.2 percent of all calls to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline originated in Texas, the second highest percentage in the country, and a majority of those calls originated in Houston.
"Human trafficking is a crime that impacts children and adults around the world, in cities across the nation and in our very own communities here in Houston," said Mayor Parker. "Today we join forces with HPD and the Harris County Sheriff's office, calling on all citizens to shine a light on this problem. We want to put a stop to human trafficking and we need your help."
The mayor says Shine a Light on Human Trafficking is a long-term campaign that seeks to increase public awareness of the problem, provide citizens with easy to understand information on how to recognize the signs of human trafficking and encourage them to report suspicious situations to authorities.
Among the special educational events this month as part of the campaign kickoff is the screening of "Sunny Square," a film about human trafficking set in Houston, followed by discussion on the problem with Mayor Parker and a panel of experts.
For a schedule of events and to learn more about the campaign, visit ShineALightHouston.org.