January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. Human trafficking is a form of slavery and involves stealing a person’s freedom to gain money. While it can be difficult to learn about human trafficking, knowledge can empower you to recognize it and help fight it. It’s more common than you might realize and could even happen to someone you know.
What is human trafficking?
Human trafficking occurs when one person causes another person to engage in sexual behaviors (sex trafficking) or perform labor or services (labor trafficking) to get something valuable, like food, shelter, clothing, a job, money, drugs or transportation. Human trafficking is always illegal and never the victim’s fault.
Anyone can be a trafficker. It can even be someone the victim knows, like a family member, friend, date or acquaintance.
Sometimes victims of sex trafficking don’t even realize they’re being trafficked. The trafficker will “groom” the victim by promising safety, love or romance to get the victim to do what they want. Traffickers may also use the following tactics:
Who is at risk for human trafficking?
Sex trafficking can happen to anyone and victims represent all:
Sex trafficking can cause severe mental, physical and emotional harm to its victims, even if trafficking stops, such as:
Human trafficking is more common than you might think: 21 million people worldwide are estimated to be victims of forced labor and 4.5 million are estimated to be victims of sex trafficking.
What are the signs of human trafficking?
Keep an eye out for signs of human trafficking, such as a person:
Keep in mind, people show these signs for other reasons that don’t include human trafficking. And there are many other potential signs of human trafficking. But if the person you know doesn’t seem right, talk to them or a trusted adult.
What to do if you think someone might be a victim of human trafficking
If you think you or someone you know might be a victim of human trafficking, talk to a trusted adult. A trusted adult empowers and supports you and helps you make positive decisions. They could be a:
If you or someone you know is experiencing sex trafficking, you can also text “Help” or “Info” to 233733 or call 1-888-373-7888.
Need more info? Connect with an Expert.
National Human Trafficking Hotline
Polaris Project: Understanding Human Trafficking
Polaris Project: Recognizing Human Trafficking
U.S. Department of Defense
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