BEREA, OH (AP) — Cleveland Browns coach Hue Jackson is tackling a disturbing problem that’s not always visible.
Jackson and his wife, Michelle, have launched a foundation to support organizations that combat human trafficking and aid its victims, women who are exploited, abused and scarred for life.
“We’re all in,” Jackson said during a kickoff event at the team’s headquarters. “We want to make a difference in this area.”
On Thursday, The Hue Jackson Foundation announced a partnership with the Salvation Army of Greater Cleveland to provide secure housing for women who have been victimized by human trafficking — modern-day slavery that involves the use of force, fraud or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act.
Jackson’s affiliation will raise awareness to an issue that often goes unreported and undetected.
“I’m not afraid of a challenge,” said Jackson, who went just 1-15 during his first season with the Browns. “We’ve seen the impact of what this creature does to people.”
The 12-bed recovery facility, named in honor of Jackson, will offer a safe environment for victims to heal and focus on treatment. Officials say there are less than 100 beds available nationwide for the estimated 100,000 identified trafficking victims annually.
Jackson said the foundation believes safe housing is essential to survivors in order to break trafficking’s circle. Jackson, who has three daughters, was joined at the foundation’s kickoff by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine.
“Human traffickers target the most vulnerable members of our society who need the most help and use them for their own profit and advancement,” said DeWine, who has formed a commission to fight human trafficking. “The work that the Hue Jackson Foundation will do to help combat this will be invaluable in providing awareness and prevention to help protect our children and loved ones from falling victim to this heinous crime.”
According to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, human trafficking cases in Ohio are some of the highest in the nation.
Before joining the Browns, Jackson was offensive coordinator for the Cincinnati Bengals. His first stint as a head coach was with the Oakland Raiders in 2011.