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Fighting the Pandemic of Child Trafficking  

If you live and breathe, then you’ve probably heard the stories of Jeffrey Epstein trafficking minors to his private island. It’s well known that human trafficking is a real problem and it’s happening all around us. As a nonprofit that focuses on the safety of children, sex trafficking is a concern to us, as it is one of the fastest-growing crimes and dangers to our youth with over 1.2 million children exploited by the global commercial sex trade every year.1 

Epstein’s arrest was just the tip of the iceberg for the exposure of this ongoing child victimization occurring right in front of many other adultsAccording to the Polaris Projecthuman trafficking is a multi-billion-dollar criminal industry that denies freedom to an estimated 24.9 million people around the world. There are two types of human trafficking, neither of which necessarily involves the smuggling of an individual, a frequently held misconception of trafficking: 

  • Sex trafficking is the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purposes of a commercial sex act, in which the commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act has not attained 18 years of age.
  • Labor trafficking is the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purposes of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery. 

Human Trafficking by the Numbers

Traffickers target their minor victims through social media, clubs, on the street, at large public places such as sporting events or malls, or through friends or recruitment by other youth at schools. Youth are often targets for traffickers because of their vulnerability and gullibility, as well as the market demand for young victims.  Those at risk are not just high school students. The average age a child is lured into the sex trade industry in the U.S. is 12 to 14 years old.2 Here are some other striking facts about human trafficking:  

  • An estimated 800,000 to 900,000 victims are trafficked across international borders annually.3 
  • Between 18,000 and 20,000 victims are estimated to be trafficked into the U.S. each year.4 
  • Victims are also used in labor exploitation, such as domestic servitude, sweatshop factories, or migrant farm work. 
  • Human trafficking disproportionately affects women and children, with more than 70% of trafficking cases involving women and girls5 and more than 90% of victims trafficked into the sex industry.6 
  • The trafficking industry profits by $150 billion annually – $99 billion of which comes from commercial sexual exploitation.7 

What Can You Do To Help Prevent Trafficking?

There are organizations, governments, and task forces dedicated to fighting this horrific epidemic, but these organizations aren’t the only ones that need to be involved in ending and preventing child trafficking; ALL adults play an important role. Here’s what you can do to help protect youth from trafficking: 

Be aware. Know how to recognize the signs that a minor is a trafficking victim. Some signs that a minor is being trafficked include (but are not limited to) 

  • Limited freedom of movement  
  • Constantly has someone at their side who seems in control 
  • Has new or unusual tattoos (victims are often branded by their traffickers)
  • Is not allowed to speak for themselves 
  • Appears fearful, anxious, depressed, submissive, tense, nervous, or paranoid 
  • Works long or unusual hours 
  • Shows signs of substance abuse or addiction 
  • Shares scripted, confusing, or inconsistent stories 
  • Has a new (often older) boyfriend or girlfriend  
Review MBF’s Human Trafficking Fact Sheet to help you Spot Red Flags of trafficking victims. 
Take our free one-hour online training: Preventing, Recognizing, and Responding to Human TraffickingLearn how this modern-day slavery is affecting children and teens and what can be done to stop it. 

 

Respond appropriately. If you suspect a minor is a victim of human trafficking, or if a minor discloses their abuse to you, it’s important that you respond appropriately. Remain calm and supportive. Allow the child to speak in their own words. Tell the child that you are happy they told you and that abuse is NOT their fault. To report or get help, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 or text HELP or INFO to BeFree (233733). 

Review MBF’s TALK IT UP for more information about disclosure. 

 

Talk with your kids. Parents must talk to their children AND teens and explain human trafficking and sex trafficking to them. Parents should explain the various ways a trafficker might manipulate or lure themBecome educated about the topic to help you with these conversations.  

Review MBF’s How to Discuss Sensitive Topics with Children to help you begin these conversations. 
Take our free one-hour online training: Preventing, Recognizing, and Responding to Human TraffickingLearn how this modern-day slavery is affecting children and teens and what can be done to stop it. 

 

Practice online safety. One way children are solicited into trafficking is through online grooming. It’s important to educate and empower the children in your life about grooming so they don’t fall victim to online offenders. Monitor your children’s online activity and remind them not to share personal information with people online. 

Learn more about Maintaining Digital Safety in Your Home here. 
Take our free one-hour online training: Real World Safety: Protecting Youth Online & Off. A Bullying, Cyberbullying, and Digital Safety Course. Learn the risks to children from bullying, online and off, and other risks associated with technology use. 

 

To help you become better educated and empowered to help youth stay safe, MBF has several one-hour online courses available at no cost 

Learn more and register today: Free Online Trainings. 

 

Human trafficking is commonly regarded as one of the most pressing human rights issues of our time, and it affects every community in the United States across age, gender, ethnicity, and socio-economic backgrounds. We hope that you take the time to become educated so you can help protect children and keep them safe.  

Additionally, please visit the following organizations for other helpful resources and to learn more about their legislative and prevention efforts in the fight to combat trafficking: 

Campaign to Rescue & Restore Victims of Human Trafficking 

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

National Human Trafficking Resource Center – The Polaris Project 

Thorn 

 

Sources:  

  1. https://www.unicef.org/sowc05/english/povertyissue3.html#:~:text=An%20estimated%201.2%20million%20children,multibillion%2Ddollar%20commercial%20sex%20industry
  2.  https://aspe.hhs.gov/report/human-trafficking-and-within-united-states-review-literature#Trafficking 
  3. https://www.trtworld.com/americas/between-600-000-and-800-000-people-trafficked-across-borders-globally-24654 
  4. https://www.womenscenteryfs.org/index.php/get-info/human-trafficking/statistics 
  5.  https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/blog/2016/12/report-majority-of-trafficking-victims-are-women-and-girls-one-third-children/ 
  6.  https://www.acog.org/clinical/clinical-guidance/committee-opinion/articles/2019/09/human-trafficking 
  7. https://www.humanrightsfirst.org/resource/human-trafficking-numbers 

 

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