Billboard campaign will highlight the need to support male victims of human trafficking
The Texas Alliance of Child & Family Services joined with state Sen. Jane Nelson and other leaders Wednesday to unveil a new campaign designed to identify and provide support for male victims of human trafficking. The campaign intends to raise public awareness of the fact that, while victims are usually thought of us female, males can also fall victim to this crime.
During a press conference at the Texas Capitol, the Outdoor Advertising Association of Texas announced a statewide campaign for Ranch Hands Rescue, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping male survivors of human trafficking. Donated billboard messages on digital units will be broadcast in up to 70 Texas cities. The campaign, which will run for all of 2022, also includes displays on traditional billboards across the state.
Texas has more than tripled its investment in combatting human trafficking over the last four legislative sessions. In 2021, the Legislature approved a $10 million grant to support a safe house devoted specifically to serving the needs of male human trafficking victims. In June, Ranch Hands Rescue in Denton County opened Bob’s House of Hope to provide a place for these young men to escape the horrors of commercial sexual exploitation. Ranch Hands Rescue is a sanctuary for abused and abandoned animals that also offers equine and animal-assisted counseling to children.
“We need to change a widely held misconception that human trafficking only involves female victims. Boys are being victimized at alarming rates and often go unidentified, deprived of their freedom in horrific situations,” Senator Nelson said. “We can’t let them remain invisible. We must change the way Texans think about this issue. We need people to see the faces of girls and boys when they think about this crime.”
Texas has the nation’s second-highest incidences of human trafficking. While data about the prevalence of male victims vary greatly, about 13 percent of all calls from males to the National Human Trafficking Hotline in 2022 were from Texas. Its Texas report is available online at: humantraffickinghotline.org/state/texas.
“State legislators, community organizations and state agencies are working together to combat child sex trafficking because we all recognize the immediate and longer-term impact of this horrible crime on vulnerable Texans,” said TACFS CEO Katie Olse. “Tragically, children and youth being served by the child welfare system are at higher risk of being victimized. For their sake, it is imperative that we raise public awareness so that more of these survivors can get the services they need.”