Focus on human trafficking

Rotary Club of Brazos River President Tony Francis (left) presented the Club's Speakers Cup to Shield Bearer Associate Director Melissa Rotholz (right). At the Club's January 8 meeting, Rotholz briefed members about modern human trafficking, its impact in the region and ways that people can watch out for tell-tale signs.


Jan. 15, 2016 – Yesterday Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton held a press conference to announce the establishment of a new unit within his office dedicated to combating human trafficking. The Attorney General’s announcement came just days after members of the Rotary Club of Brazos River were briefed on this very subject.


On January 8 Melissa Rotholz, Associate Director at Shield Bearer, offered a number of insights about modern human trafficking including trends faced by officials across our region. According to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, at least 211 adults and 110 children were involved in cases of human trafficking in Texas during 2015. Resource center statistics also indicate Texas has the second-highest estimated victim population for human trafficking with the Houston region in the lead among its cities.


Rotholz explained that Shield Bearer is one of several Houston-area organizations actively working to prevent human trafficking, and that its counselors serve to rescue and rehabilitate victims of human trafficking. Their trained counselors work with survivors in shelters, safe houses, children’s homes and in the organization’s Houston offices to help them transition back to a more normal life. Since opening its doors in 2006, Shield Bearer has grown to provide professional counseling services to more than 7,000 clients through community, school and faith-based services.


By actively engaging with community groups like the Rotary in discussing human trafficking, Rotholz and her colleagues aim to raise awareness about the problem and to encourage people to watch out for tell-tale signs. Red flags people can watch out for include individuals in isolation from community, family and friends, as well as physical evidence of bruising or swelling on victims’ faces and extremities. During her talk, Rotholz made quite an impression on Club members as she spoke passionately about this difficult topic, explaining the work counselors like her pursue in prevention and recovery.


Shield Bearer is a non-profit family resource and counseling center dedicated to helping victims of abuse and crime, veterans, homeless women and children, human trafficking survivors, and many other struggling hearts.



Photo: Rotary Club of Brazos River President Tony Francis (left) presented the Club's Speakers Cup to Shield Bearer Associate Director Melissa Rotholz (right).


Link to Shield Bearer website

Link to article on Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s announcement