~ By Colette
Today is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day. Personally, I find it surprising that people are trafficked in the United States. Human trafficking seems like something that should happen somewhere else, in some different time, certainly not in the United States in the 21st century.
I’ve looked around for statistics on how many people are victims of human trafficking; however because of its covert nature, this is difficult to determine. And, it is important to note that while forced prostitution is one form of human trafficking, people are also forced into labor, including as domestic servants, sweatshop workers, restaurant workers, migrant farm workers, hotel or tourist industry workers, and beggars.
Would you be able to recognize a victim of human trafficking? And, just as importantly, would you know who to call or how to access services for this individual? I found this video by the Administration for Children and Families helpful.
Below are a number of additional resources for familiarizing yourself on this important topic.
The Polaris Project is working to combat human trafficking and serves both citizens and foreign national victims. They run the National Human Trafficking Resource Center which provides a 24/7/365 hotline: 1-888-3737-888. Use this hotline to report suspicious behaviors, or access resources and referrals. They also have a number of resources, including information on “labor trafficking,” indicators/signs that someone is a victim, and a blog.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services provides information, brochures, and posters in the Look Beneath the Surface/Rescue and Restore campaign. Information here includes “tool kits” for health care providers, social service organizations, and law enforcement; including such resources as “Identifying and Interacting With Victims of Human Trafficking,” and “Common Health Issues Seen In Victims of Human Trafficking.” The PDF brochures are written in a variety of languages.
The Department of Education, Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools provides a Fact Sheet specifically for schools.
After looking through these resources, I am still having a hard time wrapping my head around the notion of human trafficking, and the thought that people do this to each other. Hopefully, with the work of these dedicated organizations and awareness campaigns – like National Human Trafficking Awareness Day – we can make a difference.
Colette Kimball is Associate Editor at The Prevention Researcher.