New Tennessee hotline helps battle sex trafficking

New Tennessee hotline helps battle sex trafficking

October 19th, 2011 by Beth Burger in News

Jerry Redman, executive director of Second Life Chattanooga

Photo by Jake Daniels/Times Free Press.

HOTLINE

The Tennessee Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline is for victims or those who may have information about people being forced to engage in sex acts. The hotline is staffed by professionals around the clock. For help, call 1-855-55-TNHTH (86484)

In an effort to reach out to victims of human sex trafficking, state legislators have created a 24/7 help hotline.

The hotline, which went into effect Oct. 1, was set up to aid victims by connecting them to services and helping them get to safety, according to officials.

Officials from law enforcement and nonprofit support agencies will be publicizing the number today at a news conference hosted by the Women's Fund of Greater Chattanooga.

"This [the hotline] is something the Legislature mandated based on research they had done," said Jerry Redman, executive director of Second Life Chattanooga, a local nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting awareness and prevention of human sex trafficking.

Legislators authorized a study through Vanderbilt University and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to study the issue and its prevalence across the state. The findings were released earlier this year.

While local law enforcement has no reports of human sex trafficking, the study reported there were more than 100 cases reported in Hamilton County by at least one of the respondents. The study received numbers on sex-trafficking cases from several respondents in most cities, but only used the highest number reported when tallying the results, according to officials.

"Human trafficking, including the trafficking of underage girls for sex, is modern-day slavery and it is growing, not just around the world but in our own communities," said Lorie Street Mallchok, chairwoman of the Women's Fund of Greater Chattanooga, in a news release.

Redman said the hotline will be a way for victims to get help and reach safety.

"This requires such a consolidated, integrated response," he said. "I'm glad to see progress being made in our state and at a local level."