January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. The purpose of this campaign is to raise awareness of human trafficking both nationally and globally and to educate people on ways they can help bring an end to it.

#1 What is human trafficking?

The United Nations defines human trafficking as “the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring, or receipt of persons by improper means (such as force, abduction, fraud, or coercion) for an improper purpose including forced labor or sexual exploitation.” In other words, human trafficking is anytime human beings are treated as possessions to be controlled and exploited. The three most common types of human trafficking are sex trafficking, forced labor, and debt bondage.

#2 How often and where does human trafficking occur?

It is estimated that are around 40.3 million victims of human trafficking globally. It happens both in America and other countries. Many of these victims go unnoticed in public places like hair salons, fast food restaurants and bus lines. The sad reality is that all of us have likely encountered one of these victims — and had no idea.

#3 Who is vulnerable to human trafficking?

 While everyone is vulnerable to trafficking, certain groups are more vulnerable than others. One of these groups is “transient” people, including the homeless, runaway youth, and those transitioning through the foster system, etc. Traffickers often use promises of shelter, food and money as a lure for the homeless or other vulnerable populations into the horrendous world of trafficking.

 According to Thorn, an anti-trafficking organization:

  • Studies consistently report that 50-90% of child sex trafficking victims have been involved in the child welfare system
  • A study conducted by Covenant House New York found that 1/5 of the homeless youth they surveyed in the U.S. and Canada were victims of human trafficking
  • In 2017, an estimated 1 out of 7 endangered runaways reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children were likely child sex trafficking victims
#4 What can I do to help raise awareness of human trafficking?

This Saturday, January 11th is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day. You can participate in this day by wearing blue to pledge your solidarity with victims of human trafficking. By raising awareness, you take steps to help bring an end to this heinous act. Don’t forget to use the hashtag #WearBlueDay on social media!

This month we’ll be looking at more of the harsh realities of human trafficking and learning ways you can bring awareness to your community. If you want to learn more about how you can identify victims of human trafficking, check out our course Red Flags!