In a joint press conference with Senator Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound), Senator Joan Huffman, southern Denton County’s Ranch Hands Rescue, and advocates for human trafficking victims, the Outdoor Advertising Association of Texas announced Wednesday a statewide campaign for Ranch Hands Rescue, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping male survivors of human trafficking.
Donated billboard messages on digital units will be broadcast in up to 70 Texas cities. The campaign also includes displays on traditional billboards across the state as well and will run for all of 2022, the OAAT announced.
“We need to change a widely held misconception that human trafficking only involves female victims. Boys are being victimized at alarming rates and often go unidentified, deprived of their freedom in horrific situations,” Nelson said. “We can’t let them remain invisible. We must change the way Texans think about this issue. We need people to see the faces of girls and boys when they think about this crime.”
Last session, the Texas Legislature approved a $10 million grant to establish a safe house devoted specifically to serving the needs of male human trafficking victims. In June, Ranch Hands Rescue in Denton County opened Bob’s House of Hope to provide a place for these young men to escape the horrors of commercial sexual exploitation and rebuild their lives with the skills they need to live a life of dignity and purpose. Ranch Hands Rescue is a sanctuary for abused and abandoned animals that also offers equine and animal-assisted counseling to abused and special needs children.
“For far too long, boys have been the unseen survivors of the horrific epidemic known as sex trafficking. With this billboard campaign, the advocacy of passionate legislative officials like Senator Nelson, and the support of compassionate law enforcement officials, we will shine a light on it and these innocent victims will no longer be in the shadows,” Ranch Hands Rescue CEO Bob Williams said. “Today, we are making Texas a leader in the fight against sex trafficking by recognizing publicly that boys are sex trafficked too!”