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WUSF's coverage of Super Bowl LV at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa on Feb. 7, 2021.

Hillsborough Commission on Human Trafficking Ramps Up For Super Bowl

A bunch of people in an online meeting
Hillsborough Commission on Human Trafficking/youtube
Hillsborough Commission on Human Trafficking

With the Super Bowl coming to Tampa in February, the Hillsborough County Commission on Human Trafficking is bringing together key players at the federal, state and local levels. Among them, people who have survived human trafficking.

Survivors help everyday people understand what human trafficking looks like and so can the campaign against such activity, said Kathy Andersen the former director of The Women's Fund, which helped Miami-Dade County prepare for the seedier side of the Super Bowl this year.

"We needed to, through the awareness campaign, break the stereotypes of human trafficking, because it's not well understood," Andersen said. "Members of the community don't know what it looks like, they have the stereotype of the, frankly, kind of the pimp, pimp-daddy."

The Hillsborough County effort includes judges, law enforcement, state attorneys, survivors, local and state government and regular people who can be trained to spot when something is wrong.

And imaging, social media and plain language can help get the word out, experts say. One example of this is the language used in the 2020 campaign against human trafficking for the Super Bowl in Miami. That was demonstrated in some of the visuals used to raise public awareness.

A sign giving information on what human trafficking is
Credit Hillsborough County Commission on Human Trafficking/youtube
A billboard used in the recent Miami-Dade County effort against human trafficking.

The NFL will also be a partner in the fight against human trafficking. It offers community grants for Super Bowl host cities, said NFL Social Responsibility Director Clare Graff.

"To defer to each local community that we work with around the Super Bowl, to really judge sort of what their major social issues are in their region and how we can best be supportive," Graff said. 

Last year, the National Human Trafficking hotline took nearly 500 calls of reported human trafficking in Florida. That was the third highest number in the United States. Most of those exploited were victims of sex trafficking. The majority were adult women, many of them foreign nationals.

I love telling stories about my home state. And I hope they will help you in some way and maybe even lift your spirits.
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