CINCINNATI -- Ohio ranks fourth in the country when it comes to human trafficking and the problem is growing, according to the Salvation Army.
The group's local program against human trafficking served about 150 more people through outreach, case management and additional services last year compared to the year before: up from about 250 to 400.
There has also been an increase in reports of human trafficking to the group. Last year, they received about 1,400 calls to their hotline. They had already received 700 calls to the hotline in the first three months of this year.
Erin Meyer, an anti-human trafficking program manager for the Salvation Army, said she believed more people have been recognizing the problem and been aware there are services to help.
"Those numbers ... might be telling us that it is increasing, but it might be more telling us that people are better understanding how to identify this crime," Meyer said.
Different states have different landscapes that lend themselves to different types of trafficking, according to Meyer. Interstate highways can be a hotbed for human trafficking.
"Anytime you're going to see highways, you're going to see trafficking," Meyer said.
And it can still be difficult to accurately gauge the prevalence of human trafficking, according to Allison Reynolds-Berry, the executive director of the Intercommunity Justice and Peace Center.
"Folks that are trapped in human trafficking situations are often very vulnerable, they're taken advantage of by someone who had more power, who has coerced them ... A lot of times, people don't recognize that they are in situations of human trafficking," Reynolds-Berry said.
The Salvation Army has local and national hotlines for reporting human trafficking or seeking help. Both are operated 24/7, are confidential and have tele-interpreters available. The Greater Cincinnati number is 513-800-1863 and the national number is 1-888-373-7888.
More information is also available on the Cincinnati & Northern Kentucky Salvation Army website and on the anti-human trafficking coalition website.