The study, which was funded by a $100,000 OCJS grant, is the first of its kind to use individual case records to identify human trafficking victims as defined by the federal Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000. Past estimates had relied upon methods such as random samplings of polls, self-reporting in surveys and computer models.
“Obtaining reliable data is essential to implementing informed anti-trafficking policy,” said Sophia Papadimos, state anti-trafficking coordinator. “The University of Cincinnati and collaborating partners have equipped the state with new prevalence estimates that will help guide Ohio’s human trafficking response efforts.”
The estimates of known victims and at-risk individuals “are likely very conservative relative to the true number of victims,” according to the UC study. “Human trafficking victims are particularly hard to identify because they rarely self-identify as a victim while being trafficked.” Additionally, a number of records on human trafficking were unavailable to the research team because of agency restrictions and other factors.
"Ohio has made tremendous progress toward understanding and combating human trafficking, and this study further demonstrates the state's commitment to that end," said UC assistant professor of criminal justice Valerie Anderson, the study’s principal investigator. "We are hopeful that the findings of this study — which include an inventory of data capacity and tracking capabilities — will lead to the creation of tools and systems that will ultimately help identify and respond to victims of human trafficking.”
UC is leading urban public universities into a new era of impact and innovation. Anderson's impactful work exemplifies UC's strategic direction, Next Lives Here.