Shining Light on Little Known Facts of Human Trafficking in the U.S.

Every January is National Human Trafficking Prevention Month, where we celebrate the efforts of foreign governments, international organizations, anti-trafficking entities, law enforcement officials, survivor advocates, communities of faith, businesses, and private citizens all around the world to raise awareness about human trafficking. This year, we’re focusing on Lighting the Shadows of Trafficking – bringing light to the little-known or surprising facts about trafficking

Human trafficking has become one of the worst problems the United States endures and children often fall victim to the sex trafficking realm. 1 out of 6 children reported missing to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children is likely a victim of child sex trafficking. These vulnerable children can be trafficked in numerous ways; however, they are often lured in by traffickers by providing basic survival needs. They offer distorted versions of higher needs to manipulate victims. In the US, children raised in foster care are especially vulnerable because traffickers target kids dealing with instabilities, insecurities, and trauma. Furthermore, traffickers often seek individuals that experience compounding forms of discrimination. This can be discrimination because of one’s’ racial group, gender identity, disability or sexual orientation. Also, individuals who interact with the criminal justice system, homeless youth services, and the immigration system can be at high-risk for trafficking. Other risk factors include substance abuse, recent migration/relocation, mental health issues and individuals with unstable “home-life”. 

These traffickers can be someone that the victim knows, such as a parent, a boyfriend/girlfriend, or someone they consider a friend. With the increase of social media use, traffickers have easy access to victims with whom they would not otherwise come in contact with. Traffickers use children’s social media use as a way to use their trust, and exploit their vulnerabilities. Check out Libertas Home’s Heritage Hope to find classes designed specifically for parents to help keep their children safe in the new digital age. It can also be someone with higher “power” such as an authority figure or someone involved in domestic partner violence. The average age of traffickers in federal prosecutions of human trafficking was 28.5 years old, and three-quarters were male. Nearly all traffickers were U.S. citizens. Both girls and boys can fall victim to human trafficking, while the average age a young person becomes involved in trafficking is 12 years old. According to the FBI, human trafficking is one of the most heinous crimes that they encounter. 

There is also a link between pornography and human trafficking that needs to be brought to light. According to data from Webroot Cybersecurity, it is estimated that 28,258 users are watching pornography every second, and 35% of all internet downloads are related to pornography. 400 million web searches revealed that the most popular term related to sexual online searches was “youth”. This shows that the demand for child sexual abuse content is high, and high demand for this criteria can lead to an increase of trafficking. Libertas Home knows that many men struggle with watching pornography, but it may not be known that it contributes to the demand for sex trafficking. Their program, Walking Worthy, equips men with the weapons to fight this battle and change their lives.

In conclusion, there are many risk factors that can lead to an individual becoming vulnerable to human trafficking. It is crucial to understand the impact that social media can play into the cycle of human trafficking and how pornography can influence the demand for sex trafficking. There are many factors that can lead to an individual being lured into human trafficking, and it is important to recognize how common it has become throughout the United States. There are numerous recruitment methods to be aware of and to become more educated on to further prevent the trafficking of children. Human trafficking prevention and awareness starts with one person at a time.

Posted in

Kathryn Phillips