Resources and Tips for Recognizing and Preventing Human Trafficking

Human trafficking occurs when someone is forced, coerced, or harassed into performing labor or a commercial sex act. People under the age of 18 who perform a commercial sex act are considered victims of human trafficking if force, coercion, or other misleading activity is involved.

A Human Trafficking Reporting System (HTRS) was developed with funding from the Department of Justice (DOJ). This system allows federally funded task forces to gather data on human trafficking incidents. As you explore these resources, carefully consider the human trafficking prevention tips. You can make a difference in stopping human trafficking. 

Human Trafficking Statistics

General Statistics

Since around 30,000 people fell victim to human trafficking worldwide in the 1960s, the number of victims has quadrupled to nearly 120,000 today despite the international attention and resources from states and non-governmental organizations. 

As travel restrictions made human trafficking more difficult during the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of trafficking victims decreased. Of course, the secrecy surrounding trafficking makes it difficult to determine the exact numbers, which is one of the most important considerations for human trafficking prevention tips. 

State Statistics

There were a total of 1,334 cases of human trafficking reported in California in 2020. There are 987 cases in Texas, 738 cases in Florida, and 414 in New York. The states with the highest population in the United States also correspond with the highest immigrant populations. The human trafficking rates also increase in these high-population areas. 

There’s a clear correlation between higher populations, particularly migrant populations, and the incidents or cases of human trafficking. Some of the high numbers of human trafficking are in states like Texas and California, where forced labor is prevalent in the agriculture industry.

Human trafficking is most prevalent in the following ten states:

  • California
  • Texas
  • Florida
  • New York
  • Georgia
  • Ohio
  • Michigan
  • Missouri
  • North Carolina
  • Illinois

Tips for Identifying Human Trafficking 

Human trafficking can be forced labor or sexual exploitation. Over the last ten years, forced labor has become more prevalent as a criminal’s motivation than sexual exploitation. So, human trafficking increasingly targets men for forced labor, which explains the changing statistical profile of 67% of men in human trafficking. 

You may notice red flags indicating that the person is being trafficked, used for sexual exploitation, or forced labor. Here are some telltale signs a person might be in a human trafficking situation. They’re essential indicators as you look for human trafficking prevention tips.

  • They may be living with an employer.
  • Their living conditions may be poor or inadequate.
  • There may be several people living in a small space.
  • You may find that you’re unable to speak with the person one-on-one.
  • Their answers may appear to be scripted or rehearsed.
  • The employer may hold their identity documents.
  • You may notice indications of physical or emotional abuse.
  • They may appear extraordinarily fearful or submissive.
  • They may appear to be poorly paid or unpaid.
  • The individual may appear to be younger than 18.
  • The person may not have any personal possessions.
  • They may be in an unstable living situation.
  • You may notice drastic changes in their behavior.
  • They may appear to be disconnected or removed from family or friends.

If the person does not appear free to speak or appears afraid, you may learn that security considerations prevent them from free movement or independent action. 

What to Do If You Think You’ve Identified a Victim of Human Trafficking – Human Trafficking Prevention Tips

If you think you’ve witnessed a person who is a victim of human trafficking, here are some actions you can take immediately and on an ongoing basis in the future. Here are human trafficking prevention tips. 

  • Learn the indicators of human trafficking. Educators, first responders, law enforcement, educators, and federal employees can participate in human trafficking awareness training, among others.
  • Contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline or call them at 1-888-373-7888 if you believe someone may be a victim of human trafficking. There are services and immigration assistance available to victims of trafficking, regardless of whether they are U.S. citizens.
  • Use, and check the Labor’s List of Goods to determine whether the products and goods you buy are associated with human trafficking.
  • Using your buying power, force companies to disclose information, including lists of suppliers or factories, about human trafficking in their supply chains.
  • Volunteer and support efforts in your community.
  • Contact your elected officials. Ask them what they are doing to prevent and combat human trafficking.
  • Educate yourself. Become aware of current human trafficking news by setting up an alert. For more information on human trafficking around the world, take a look at CNN’s Freedom Project.
  • Organize a film screening and discussion event to raise awareness of human trafficking.
  • Ask your local library to host the event and assist you in identifying suitable materials.
  • Organize a fundraiser to benefit a trafficking prevention organization.
  • Help local schools develop protocols for identifying and reporting human trafficking. You can also help them to learn better ways to prepare for and respond to potential victims with an appropriate curriculum.
  • Promote human trafficking awareness on your social media platforms using the hashtags #endtrafficking, and #freedomfirst.
  • Help a young person in need by being a mentor. It is common for traffickers to target vulnerable people going through difficult times or lacking strong support networks.
  • Learn how and who to turn to for help when human traffickers target and recruit youth.
  • Get community members involved in community conversations about safeguarding children in your community, including parent-teacher associations, school officials, law enforcement, and schools.

Resources for Victims of Human Trafficking 

Here are resources for those affected by human trafficking. Find more human trafficking prevention tips as well as resources related to temporary non-immigration status, training, and employment assistance. 

Immigration Resources

Human trafficking involves issues with immigration for affected individuals. These resources offer details on temporary non-immigration status. 

Training Programs

These training programs and resources support skills development, placement, and technical services. Explore these top resources. 

State-by-State Guide to Services

The states have developed services and resources that help children, families, and individuals affected by human trafficking. Here are must-read sites if you’re looking for help.

Mental Health Resources

Many organizations and support services included in the state-by-state section above offer guidance to support mental health resources. Here are additional resources that should help. 

  • SAMHSA Helpline: Here’s a free, confidential treatment referral service.
  • Health Care and Behavioral Health Systems: The site highlights the skill sets that health care practitioners (HCPs) should cultivate o that they can identify and respond to trafficking victims and people at risk.
  • Mental Health Disorders and Sex Trafficking: This site offers insights into anxiety, depression, isolation, PTSD, and identity issues – all of which affect victims of human trafficking. 
  • Mental Health First Aid: This resource allows you to understand and respond to the signs of mental illnesses and substance use disorders. 
  • Mental Health in an Unequal World: Educate yourself on how human trafficking can impact racial and gender inequities, adversely affecting mental health.
  • Mental Illness and Human Trafficking: Due to trauma, human trafficking survivors often develop posttraumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and depression.
  • Federal government agencies provide insight into mental health through this resource.
  • Survivor-Informed Toolkit: This site offers organizational capacity building for collaborating with and supporting survivors, volunteers, and consultants.

Those who experience human trafficking may experience anxiety, emotional numbness, memory loss, and depression. In addition, victims may develop PTSD, substance abuse, an eating disorder, and a dependence on substances or alcohol.

Human Trafficking Hotlines

These hotlines offer essential resources and advice if you’re looking for someone to call for assistance. Give them a call. 

  • U.S. National Human Trafficking Hotline: Live Chat web, 1-888-373-7888, Text “BeFree” (233733)
  • Crime Victim Service Center Hotline: 1-888-288-9221, available 9-5, M-F through June 2022.
  • Washington State Anti-Trafficking Response Network (WARN): 206-245-0782
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