The conveniences and the automation of modern life, such as social media and the advances in cell phone technology and applications, show evidence of our progress as civilized people. Yet with all these advancements in society, nearly 300,000 children per year in the US are at risk of being forced into the sex-slave industry as well as exploitation, where Human Trafficking is becoming the most rapidly growing crime in the United States, claiming a child victim every four seconds.

A few days ago, I attended a Human Trafficking Awareness event that was sponsored by the Faith and Freedom Coalition and Rotary International at a local hospital in Hiram, Georgia, (United States) that presented information about a humanitarian crisis where many Victims, both male, and female, are lured with fake promises of financial or emotional security.

The victims are then forced into prostitution, a domestic servant or other types of forced labor. Human trafficking is modern-day slavery where citizens are selling other citizens for monetary reasons.

Human trafficking in plain sight

Human trafficking is a $32 billion per year trans-national crime syndicate, second only drug trafficking and only a small number of victims are actually abducted whereas most are lured with false promises such as modeling careers and other adolescent desires.

What may seem to be human trafficking is sometimes false and is left up to law enforcement to investigate, but such a criminal act can go unnoticed even when an individual who is interacting with a victim on a continuous basis, making it a hidden crime.

Possible signs, indicators of human trafficking

The indicators of whether a child is a victim of human trafficking are numerous, but some of the general areas of concern include labor or service where the victim has been brought on to do a particular job but is then forced to do something else.

Does the person have any freedom of movement and is there security measures used to keep the victim on the premises? Other areas include the victim’s living condition and are they being controlled by someone else, fearful, timid, or submissive?

When it comes to travel:

  • Does the victim know where they are going?
  • Do they know how they will arrive at the destination?
  • Are they traveling with someone that “does not” appear to be their parent or guardian?

In terms of medical and physical conditions:

  • Is the victim displaying a sudden or a dramatic change in behavior?
  • Is the person showing bruises, scars, burns or other types of injuries?
  • Appear malnourished?
  • Has serious dental problems?

Who’s at risk?

Human traffickers prey on people with little or no social safety net. They look for those who are vulnerable for various reasons that include economic hardships, violence in the home, natural disasters or even political instability. The traffickers will target places where they can easily find children and women, whereas runaways and throwaways are at an increased risk although any person can become a victim.

Gangs and drug traffickers will lure children from schools and put them into sexual exploitation or in trafficking for other purposes.

Those involved in human trafficking will use social media, telephone chat-lines, after-school programs, on the streets, at shopping malls, and will use other students to find other young victims. Domestic servitude victims may also be working in legitimate and illegitimate occupations such as restaurants, construction sites, factories, or on farms. A person can be trafficked without leaving their hometown.

Human Traffickers' tactics

Traffickers will use a variety of tactics in order to trap and enslave unsuspecting people, especially children. Those tactics include threats of violence, the use of violence, and by using psychological coercion. These types of trauma can be so great that many may not realize that they are a victim or ask for help.

The traffickers may make false promises of love and companionship such as pretending to be their boyfriend, girlfriend. They may falsely tell the victim that they can help them get a good job and that they can stay with them (the trafficker) for free. The victims may or may not have legal immigration status and may work in both legitimate and illegitimate labor occupations.

Human smuggling and reporting

The act of human smuggling involves bringing or attempting to bring a person into a nation in violation of immigration or other laws. Human trafficking is the exploitation of a person for sex or slave labor. Such trafficking doesn’t require movement or the transport of victims across borders. The exploitation is what makes the person a victim.

Over 5,000 people have been rescued due to the resources at the trafficking hotlines, but that is estimated to be only one percent of the victims. Human trafficking is not just a United States problem but is a crisis throughout the world. In reporting suspicious activity, call toll free at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE (1-866-347-2423). For international reporting, callers may use the non-toll free number 1-802-872-6199. Anonymous tips can also be sent to www.ice.gov/tips.