Pima County recently hosted a Sex Trafficking Summit held at the Tucson Convention Center, 260 S. Church Ave., aiming to bring together community leaders and advocates to better address this pressing problem.

The Arizona State University (ASU) hosted the summit, featuring a lineup of speakers and presentations focusing on:

Prevention Detection Intervention efforts

“This is the second of the forums that we have done; we did one about five months ago, and we had 50 participants; today we have 200,” Ward 6 Council Person Steve Kozachik’s Chief of Staff Ann Charles explained the significance of the event explained. “So, it’s really here for people involved in combating sex trafficking to bring the entire community together to create a framework for dealing with the victims of sex trafficking and prosecuting those who are sex traffickers.”

Pima County recorded 46 cases of child sex trafficking in 2022, according to Mercy Care.

ASU School of Social Work Associate Professor Dominique Roe-Sepowitz and director of ASU’s Office of Sex Trafficking Intervention Research revealed, “We consistently see about 38% of the children, young adults, aged 18-24, who answer a survey on youth homelessness, identify that they’ve been trafficked.”

To assist children and their families impacted with sex trafficking, the Children’s Advocacy Center provides forensic interviewing, advocacy for non-offending caregivers, medical services and long-term support services.

“We provide support services for families when children have been put through a trauma like this,” Director of Advocacy at the Children’s Advocacy Center Renee Hartje stated.

A new state hotline was launched earlier this year to give sex trafficking survivors help.

Roe-Sepowitz explained the hotline’s purpose, saying, “We would like people to call that hotline and say these are the things that I need. I need a safe place to stay; I want to talk to law enforcement; I want to reconnect with my family; I want to go back to the town I’m from, and we can help them with all of those needs.”

For those affected with sex trafficking and are seeking assistance, the hotline number is 1 (877) 4AZ-TIPS.