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- What is Human Trafficking, Who Does It Affect, and Where Does It Happen?
- Recognizing the Signs of Human Trafficking
- 5 Ways You Help Stop Human Trafficking Now
- Degree & Career Paths Fighting Against Human Trafficking
- Students: How to Take Action Against Human Trafficking
- Interview with the Expert
- Additional Reading about Human Trafficking Prevention
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Be the Change: How You Can Help End Human Trafficking
Educate yourself on the issue, explore options for getting involved, and become a human rights advocate.
Last Updated: 08/14/2020
An estimated 40 million people are victims of modern day slavery and human trafficking. Though it might seem shocking that anyone in today’s world could still be forced into domestic servitude, child labor, sex trades, and other unthinkable situations, it’s something that happens in hundreds of countries – and it might even be happening in your own backyard.
Recognizing the signs of human trafficking is just the first step in stopping these heinous acts. By becoming better informed on the issue, raising awareness, speaking up and taking action, we can all do our part to help victims of trafficking. This guide will improve your knowledge and show how you can join the cause to give others a chance at a free life. Whether you want to become a volunteer, learn how to spot red flags of trafficking in your community, or make ending trafficking your life’s work in a dedicated career, you’ll be ready to make a real difference.
What Is Human Trafficking, Who Does It Affect, and Where Does It Happen?
Many people have misconceptions about human trafficking, such as what it is and who it affects. The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 defines “severe forms of trafficking in persons” as:
Sex trafficking in which a 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.
The recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery. A victim need not be physically transported from one location to another for the crime to fall within this definition.
The terms human trafficking and modern slavery are often used interchangeably. What’s the difference between the two, if any?
Though the U.S. Department of State considers “human trafficking” to include both sex trafficking and forced labor, this term ais most often associated with sex trafficking.
According to the U.S. Department of State, modern slavery is an umbrella term that also encompasses both sex trafficking and forced labor. However, most people think of modern slavery as forced labor, including domestic servitude or debt bondage.
While human trafficking is often associated with transporting individuals across borders, it doesn’t have to involve the movement of victims as noted by the U.S. Department of State. It includes men, women, and children of all ages, races, nationalities, or genders. Human trafficking can be happening right now in your community. Many believe human trafficking is only a problem in certain countries, but the unfortunate truth is that human trafficking happens everywhere. Though most trafficking is national or regional, international trafficking is also a serious problem. Long-distance trafficking most commonly takes a victim from one lesser-developed country to a more developed country. Most victims come from Asia, though the Americas are quite common as both a destination and an origin point for trafficking.
Types of Human Trafficking
Though sex trafficking is what often makes the news, there are other forms of trafficking that can be just as devastating for victims. Here are some of the most common forms of trafficking happening on a daily basis around the world.
Recognizing the Signs of Human Trafficking
Victims of human trafficking often cannot seek help on their own. That’s why it’s so critical for everyone to be aware of the signs. It’s especially important for those who work in public service or medical careers, as the nature of their work makes it more likely that they will come into contact with trafficking victims. Here are some of the red flags a person may be a trafficking victim:
- Has unusual restrictions at work, such as no breaks
- Works excessively long hours, or lives and works onsite
- Has a great deal of anxiety, worry, or depression
- Exhibits fear at the mention of law enforcement officials
- Offers a scripted story to explain signs of abuse
- Is not allowed to speak for themselves
- Shows signs of poor hygiene, malnourishment, fatigue, or abuse
5 Ways You Help Stop Human Trafficking Right Now
In many cases, a victim has been saved from human trafficking simply because someone spoke up. They saw the signs and made some noise. Here are some simple ways you can get involved and make a real difference.
Anti-trafficking Degree & Career Paths
Those who feel very strongly about human trafficking and want to make a difference every single day can look to careers that put them right in the center of the fight. The following careers can help you help those who need it most.
Students: How to Take Action Against Human Trafficking
It might be easy for students to think they can’t do much to fight human trafficking; after all, they’re so busy with school, work, and everything in between. But there are several ways students can speak out, shine attention on the problem, and make a difference. Here’s how.
- Create a club.Don’t go it alone! Start a club at your school that will focus on helping the victims of human trafficking. A club like this can also help others see the signs of traffickers, so they can possibly avoid falling victim themselves.
- Get educated.Learn everything you can about human trafficking. When someone asks you about it, you’ll want to be able to make a clear impression about how serious the problem is. The more you know, the more confident you will seem, and the more someone else will listen to what you have to say.
- Host events to raise awareness.Work with school clubs, Greek organizations, and social groups at the school to host events that raise awareness. Invite speakers close to the issue, hand out flyers and information packets, and educate others on how to spot the signs.
- Petition to add human trafficking courses.If your school doesn’t have human trafficking courses available, start a petition and ask them to add a few. Talk with the heads of departments that might be able to help, such as those in psychology or women’s studies, to get them on board with the possibility of teaching the courses.
- Volunteer with local organizations.Volunteering with places near your college that take in victims of human trafficking, such as women’s shelters, children’s shelters, and social service agencies, can help you make a direct difference in the lives of those who have been rescued from trafficking.
Interview with the Expert
Recommended Reading & Resources About Human Trafficking Prevention
- Child Welfare Information Gateway: State Agencies and Organizations That Combat Sex Trafficking and Exploitation
- U.S. Department of State: Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
- CNN Freedom Project
- Federal Bureau of Investigation: Human Trafficking
- Global Modern Slavery Directory
- Homeland Security Blue Campaign
- National Human Trafficking Hotline
- The Price of Sex: Resources
- Truckers Against Trafficking
- UNICEF USA: Child Trafficking
- United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime: Human Trafficking FAQs
- United Way: Center on Human Trafficking and Slavery