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Group aims to spotlight human trafficking dangers ahead of Super Bowl in Tampa

Attorney General Ashley Moody is also helping to bring awareness to the public.

Monday marks this year’s National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, and one organization is using the upcoming Super Bowl in Tampa to help highlight the risk to Floridians.

The group, called “It’s a Penalty,” was created in partnership with A21, a global anti-trafficking organization. Multiple players from the National Football League are participating in a public service announcement on the issue. Attorney General Ashley Moody recently joined It’s a Penalty to unveil educational signage and other displays at Tampa International Airport.

“So much depends on having the right tools and being in the right place at the right time,” Moody said. “These strategically placed signs will ensure more travelers are equipped with the information they need to help spot, report and stop human trafficking ahead of the championship game.”

Monday morning, the group followed up with the formal launch of its 2021 awareness campaign at the Tampa Downtown Hilton. Moody gave the keynote address.

“This campaign is designed to progress us towards our and our partners’ goal to eradicate abuse, exploitation and trafficking globally by 2030 together,” said It’s a Penalty CEO Sarah Carvalho.

“We know from previous campaigns just how impactful they can be — including our largest yet in 2020 which reported that 84% of people felt improved awareness of the issues of human trafficking and exploitation, and more equipped to make a report after being exposed to the campaign.”

Part of Monday’s work will involve training hotel staff and management in Tampa to identify and report possible instances of human trafficking. Officials have often used high-profile events such as the Super Bowl to spotlight the issue, as the influx of travelers can attract traffickers looking to exploit their victims.

During last year’s Super Bowl in Miami-Dade County, state officials made similar pushes to increase awareness. Kat Rosenblatt, a trafficking survivor, praised this year’s initiative.

“If a campaign like this existed when I was being trafficked as a teen, it would have prevented me from being trafficked in the first place,” Rosenblatt said.

Research has shown Tampa has the 12th highest rate of trafficking reports per capita in the U.S. Uber and Airbnb have also agreed to help highlight the issue, with Uber drivers displaying tags displaying hotline help numbers and Airbnb hosts receiving training on spotting potential incidents.

A PSA from It’s a Penalty featuring NFL players — including Chris Godwin and William Gholston of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers — can be viewed below.

Written By

Ryan Nicol covers news out of South Florida for Florida Politics. Ryan is a native Floridian who attended undergrad at Nova Southeastern University before moving on to law school at Florida State. After graduating with a law degree he moved into the news industry, working in TV News as a writer and producer, along with some freelance writing work. If you'd like to contact him, send an email to ryan.t.nicol@gmail.com.

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