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KSP reports an increase in human trafficking, new org looking to help young survivors

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Posted at 7:00 PM, Jul 05, 2024

BEREA, Ky. (LEX 18) — In its latest statewide crime report, Kentucky State Police listed human trafficking as one of the crime categories seeing the largest year-over-year increase.

Between 2022 and 2023, the state saw a nearly 40% increase in reported trafficking offenses.

It credits the rise, however, to an increase in training, as well as heightened awareness in communities, which may have led to more people actually reporting the widely underreported crime.

“One crime committed is one too many,” Gov. Andy Beshear said of the report as a whole. “Our law enforcement and government leaders remain focused on deterring crime, protecting Kentucky families and providing services to victims. At the beginning of my second term, I pledged to remain committed to creating that better Kentucky we all want for future generations, and every day, my administration reaffirms this promise.”

Organizations across Kentucky have dedicated themselves to assisting survivors of trafficking and exploitation.

In Madison County, a new non-profit, Redeeming Hope, is aiming to open a group home for girls ages 14 to 18 who are healing from human trafficking or sexual exploitation.

Zinnia Hensley, vice president of the non-profit, said people are starting to have a better understanding of what human trafficking actually looks like.

"We think about like movies like 'Taken' when we think about human trafficking. But I think that a lot of people are starting to bring awareness that that's not always the case. Sometimes it's our own family members. Sometimes it's friends. Sometimes it'll be people that we least expected," Hensley said.

Hensley, a social worker in Madison County, said the need for more help for victims of trafficking is large.

Redeeming Hope received a 5-acre land donation in Berea, where it hopes to begin constructing its group home soon. It is currently fundraising to help collect donations to do so.

"It will take a community to help these ladies to be successful and I hope that we see more community involvement, awareness is all we need," she said.

If you or someone you know is a victim of human trafficking or exploitation, a 24/7 hotline is available at 1-888-373-7888. You can also text INFO 233733.