Many of the topics that we train for are not easy because they don’t make sense. Our way to fight that is to educate past the point of fear and teach with compassion. School shootings, human trafficking; whether for sex or labor, bombs and terrorism are all difficult to understand or rationalize because, I believe, they go against our moral fiber. I would like to take one of these heinous topics, human trafficking, and discuss it to create awareness.

“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. Human smuggling, a related but different crime, generally involves the consent of the person(s) being smuggled. These people often pay large sums of money to be smuggled across international borders. Once in the country of their final destination, they are generally left to their own devices. Smuggling becomes trafficking when the element of force or coercion is introduced.” (https://nij.ojp.gov/topics/articles/overview-human-trafficking-and-nijs-role). There are two components to human trafficking; Sex trafficking and labor trafficking. Both are examples of modern day slavery!

WHY should you care about Human Trafficking? Maybe you have no children, children are grown, you go to work and come home so you don’t run into a lot of people, its too terrible to think about, it won’t happen here, etc., etc., etc. Personally I was in the mindset of, “it doesn’t happen here.” The most information I have ever received on human trafficking was watching shows like Criminal Minds and cop shows. Depictions of horrible circumstances or people and families trying to cross the US border to be able to work here and then being held against their will. These created a thought or belief in me that it wasn’t really an issue in the United States and too horrible to be true. Boy, was I WRONG!

According to the FBI it is believed to be the third-largest criminal activity in the world, this includes the United States. (https://www.fbi.gov/investigate/civil-rights/human-trafficking).

On the webpage humantraffickinghotline.org a person can search a specific state within the US to see the statistics of human trafficking. It is alarming to see how many potential cases are reported each year in each state.

My head was in the sand when I assumed that it didn’t happen here. Even when working in the emergency room where I was suspicious of a situation. A female not allowed to answer questions on her own, “family” insisting they go everywhere with the patient, interesting or unexplained injuries, and so on. But I always rationalized it by thinking, “that doesn’t happen here” or, “the doctor will do something about it.” This was my mistake.

Now, I dive into learning more and more so I can no longer deny that human trafficking doesn’t happen here in the states. It’s no longer about denial, now I have to face it and drive myself to do as much as I can about it.

I know in my gut that I have encountered quite a few people that I could’ve and should’ve reported to the Human Trafficking hot line.

Looking back I am confused that I didn’t receive any training on human trafficking awareness in the 20 years I worked in the medical field or as a first responder.  In my search for answers and training I found SOAR (https://www.acf.hhs.gov/otip/training/soar-to-health-and-wellness-training) a training by Department of Health and Human Services created specifically for health care providers.  From the training I learned “67.6% of individuals who have been or are currently being trafficked are highly likely to come into contact with someone within the the public health system.” This is partially what created my drive to educate, even on the level of awareness, about Human Trafficking!

Human trafficking is here, on our soil, in the United States.

What you should know about trafficking?

(Selected from https://www.dosomething.org/us/facts/11-facts-about-human-trafficking)

  • The vast majority of human trafficking cases go unreported.
    • This means we need to be more aware and more vigilant and train ourselves.  Learn to take action and report trafficking.
  • It is estimated that there are anywhere between 20-40 million people internationally in modern day slavery.
    • We need awareness in young adults and children.  Training in the schools and at home about human trafficking; what human trafficking is, how to identify human trafficking and to tell an adult as soon as they suspect it.
  • Globally, an estimated 71% of enslaved people are women and girls, while men and boys account for 29%.
    • This doesn’t affect just girls and women, 29% are men and boys! Teach ALL children and youth that they can be at risk.  Educate and empower them to know what to do!
  • Advocates report a growing trend of traffickers using online social media platforms to recruit and advertise targets of human trafficking.
    • According to Deliver Fund, an anti-trafficking group, “Traffickers gain access to their victims through a variety of methods. They can be family members or acquaintances, or they can be complete strangers who use social media to groom their potential victims. See our guide for recognizing Human Trafficker Grooming Behaviors for more details.” Guide for Grooming Behaviors found at https://www.deliverfund.org/the-human-trafficking-problem-in-america/know-the-signs/

Thankfully there are so many groups focused on ending human trafficking.  They have compiled much of the information that you read here.  Many of the Domestic Violence Services have task forces that focus on human trafficking.  Get informed.

At Strategic Emergency Education we are blessed to work with many groups of people who care.  We are always willing to come and talk with groups, communities and businesses about Human Trafficking.  Please help us spread awareness and what to do to STOP MODERN DAY SLAVERY!