Public awareness is imperative to the destruction of human trafficking. Ignorance allows it to remain hidden and therefore thrive. As public awareness increases, perceptions shift, stereotypes are broken, and victims have a better chance of being identified.
What is Trafficking?
When approached with the phrase human trafficking , most Americans envision images of other countries. However, what is often unrecognized in American society, is that this epidemic is taking over our country but going largely unseen. Human traffickers are preying on those most vulnerable in our society and manipulating or forcing them into situations of exploitation. This is modern-day slavery, and there are more slaves now than there ever have been before in history.
Sex trafficking within the U.S. is legally defined as commercial sex acts induced by force, fraud, or coercion or commercial sex acts in which the individual induced to perform commercial sex has not attained 18 years of age -Polaris Project. It is the exploitation of vulnerability, and the psychology involved in the recruitment and maintaining of control over victims is layered and complex.
Here are some shocking statistics you probably don’t know:
- Human trafficking is the fastest-growing criminal enterprise in the world and in the United States. It is only second in illegal activity to the drug trade.
- However, in some parts of the world, and in some parts of the U.S., it has already surpassed the drug trade.
- The majority of trafficking reported in the United States is for sexual exploitation, and the majority of the victims are U.S. citizens.
- The average age a person in the U.S. first becomes a victim of sex trafficking is thirteen .
- Hundreds of thousands of American youth are at-risk of being trafficked every year.
- The internet and social media are becoming the number one recruitment tools used by traffickers and other predators.