February 10, 2023
In a gymnasium filled with a sea of energetic high schoolers, local human trafficking experts ended Human Trafficking Awareness Month with a thought-provoking discussion that led to a barrage of questions from inquisitive North Miami teens. With one hand being raised after another, the teens asked questions that extended the gamut of issues involving sex trafficking – just one of several types of human trafficking tragedies known in the United States.
The panel discussion was a part of an annual awareness rally organized by North Miami Vice Mayor Mary Estimé-Irvin and sponsored by Team of Hope, a local charitable organization that supports many efforts in North Miami. For the fourth year in a row, Estimé-Irvin has hosted the teen rally and invited local high schools and government agencies to engage in discussion about human trafficking and ways teens can avoid becoming a victim. This year’s panel included Miami-Dade County State Attorney’s Office Human Trafficking Task Force, North Miami Police Department Human Trafficking Task Force, Tree of Life Parenting Center, and Global Innovative Foundation.
“Despite hosting this rally since I took office, it continues to be a difficult conversation for all of us,” Vice Mayor Estimé-Irvin shared. “I can’t pretend that the rally was not intense. It was. Yet, the dialogue was necessary to ensure the eyes of our youth remain open to the dangers that live around us.”
As a mother, Estimé-Irvin revealed that she worries about these dangers. “I think I will always worry, but I want to ensure that future generations have the tools and knowledge to protect themselves, their family, and friends when it comes to the dangers of human trafficking,” Estimé-Irvin said.
During the rally, questions from the teens centered on situational scenarios, consequences, prevention, sextortion, and recovery of missing children. The most impactful of the discussion that led to an unexpected reaction of hoots and hollers from the youth was learning about victims as young as three-years old.
With Florida ranking third in the nation for human trafficking and Miami-Dade County topping the list in cases according to Miami-Dade County State Attorney’s Office, the National Human Trafficking Hotline reported 738 trafficking cases in Florida in 2020 with 517 sex trafficking cases; 41 sex and labor trafficking cases; 108 labor trafficking cases; and 72 cases reflecting other forms of trafficking.
For more information about North Miami Vice Mayor Estimé-Irvin’s human trafficking prevention advocacy or to schedule an interview with her, email Communications@NorthMiamiFL.gov.
Traci Y. Pollock, Communications Manager
305-893-6511, Ext. 12151
About the City of North Miami
North Miami is a suburban city located in northeast Miami-Dade County, Florida. It is roughly 10 miles (16 km) north of Miami. The city lies on Biscayne Bay which surrounds the Biscayne Bay Campus of Florida International University. North Miami is home to a diverse demographic of residents. With more than 64,000 residents, North Miami is the sixth largest city in Miami-Dade County. We are home to the Oleta River State Park; the largest urban park in the Florida State Park System and the nationally accredited Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA North Miami).