Many people think that human trafficking takes place mostly in foreign countries and “doesn’t happen near me”. While human trafficking is very prevalent in foreign countries, it is happening every day in the United States, in all 50 states.
While the numbers are hard to track, the National Human Trafficking Hotline is one of the ways we know real time information. They are a U.S.-based anti-trafficking hotline serving victims and survivors of human trafficking. They receive tips through phone calls, emails and online tip reports. However, the data received doesn’t reflect the totality of human trafficking going on around us as a lot of it is in secret and not reported.
While the 2017 statistics haven’t been updated, in 2016 the National HT Hotline received 26,727 calls and had 7,621 cases of human trafficking reported. Out of all of the cases, 6k were female and 2,412 were minors. Specifically, 5,593 sex trafficking cases were reported in 2016. 4,522 of those calls were from human trafficking victims and survivors.
So why are there so many victims being trafficked locally? In 2017, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children estimated that 1 in 6 endangered runaways reported to them were likely sex trafficking victims. Often times through coercion and fraud, women and children are lured into trafficking through promises of money, food and housing. For those who face economic difficulty, these promises can mean hope. What they don’t know is that it can leave them trapped and at risk for abuse and trauma. The top states in 2017 for sex trafficking were California, Texas, Florida, Ohio and New York.
"1 in 6 endangered runaways reported were likely sex trafficking victims."
When you spend time in a restaurant, hotel, airport or hospital, we all have a chance to be aware of victims who may come through our door or that we pass in a public restroom. These victims need advocates, and someone who reports a sign of abuse can make a difference in someone’s freedom.
While it’s sometimes overwhelming to understand the magnitude of human trafficking that is going on around us, it’s also empowering. The more awareness we have, the better equipped we are to take action and encourage others to raise awareness.
As Edmund Burke stated, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” We have the power to do something every day, whether that be through sharing a social media post, donating to 500 for Freedom, calling the National Human Trafficking Hotline or through prayer. If we all stand together we can make a difference and end it.