Battling human trafficking

Headshot of Cornelius McGrady
Cornelius McGrady

By Linda Dillman
Staff Writer

Missing children and human trafficking impact communities everywhere, including Canal Winchester.

Cornelius McGrady, the founder of a youth trafficking coalition in Reynoldsburg, is bringing awareness of the situation to the Canal Winchester community through the creation of a local club and a May 13 missing children awareness event in the Oley Speaks auditorium, 100 Washington St., Canal Winchester, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Presenters include the Ohio Attorney General’s office, Bureau of Criminal Investigation, FBI, and the mayor’s office.

Outside exhibits feature the BCI’s crime vehicle and a Fairfield County sheriff’s department cruiser. Informational displays, giveaways and a facial recognition exhibit will be located inside the auditorium.

McGrady, an Army veteran, presented his proposal to form a coalition club for students to the local school board in October and the program began in December.

“Like Jesus told his disciples, go out and spread the gospel,” said McGrady. “I have made educating our most valuable resource my mission. The average age of a child abducted and murdered is 11 years old. In 2022, 15,555 children were reported missing in Ohio and more than 800,000 are missing throughout the United States annually.”

According to McGrady, the majority of missing children are found. In Ohio in 2022, 96 percent were returned safely. However, the four percent that do not make it home can be parent’s worst nightmare.

“These cases have a huge impact on local communities and our schools,” said McGrady, who said when the Reynoldsburg Youth Human Trafficking coalition first began its awareness campaign in 2009, some questioned why organizers were bringing negative attention and problems to the city.

“We are bringing awareness to an underground existing problem,” said McGrady. “The Brice and Livingston corridor—a quarter mile away from Reynoldsburg High School—is in the top five spots for sex trafficking. To some it was merely coincidence that the number of hotel raids, brothel busts, and the largest human trafficking took place in Franklin County in Reynoldsburg in 2016.”

According to the Ohio Attorney General’s office, it is estimated that 1,078 Ohio children are sex-trafficked every year. Thirteen is the most common age for children to be victims of sex trafficking.

The signs of human trafficking in youth include: poor mental health or abnormal nervous behavior; the child appears fearful, anxious, depressed, submissive, tense or nervous/paranoid; they exhibit unusual fearful or anxious behavior after being around law enforcement; avoid eye contact; appear malnourished or show signs of physical and/sexual abuse, physical restraint, confinement or torture.


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