WHAT’S THE DEAL?
For the past few years, we’ve released this article explaining the link between the largest sporting event in the United States and human trafficking. But, does the Super Bowl actually increase human trafficking in the host city? The true answer is this – it’s hard to say. Unfortunately, human trafficking is an issue in every country, in every region, including the United States. It happens every day and millions are trapped in the dark reality of exploitation and abuse. However, in recent years, awareness of this issue has increased and the general public has decidedly taken a stand against human trafficking of all sorts.
So where did the Super Bowl / Human Trafficking theory originate? It really comes down to basic numbers – where there are people the possibility of crime and trafficking increases. As the Super Bowl draws thousands of people to one location, this holds true. Traffickers (and other criminals, for that matter) see that these events increase the number of potential victims and potential buyers. Therefore, the Super Bowl, along with every other major sporting event, has the possibility of becoming a hotspot for human trafficking.
There is a bright side to this all – with the increased awareness and action taken, trafficking is actually being defeated every day. Even at the Super Bowl! Recently, more and more news and media outlets are sharing that the increase in trafficking around the Super Bowl may be a myth. This could actually be good news! It’s possible – even likely – that the increased awareness and local action that is taken to prevent trafficking are changing the narrative.
We applaud local agencies and the other organizations that come alongside to shed a light on the issue of trafficking during times when it could be more prevalent. Again, human trafficking happens every day in every area of the world. And when more people gather in one area, the risk does, in fact, increase. At the end of the day, this is a dark industry that will take advantage of a large population of “supply” (aka victims) and demand (aka buyers). Even as more and more media outlets “debunk” human trafficking as a myth, let us stay vigilant in the fight against trafficking every single day, including during high-profile events.
This year: Super Bowl LVII in Pheonix AZ
Glendale, Arizona officials are gearing up for the Super Bowl just as they did in 2015 when officials say they did, in fact, encounter many who had come to Arizona to buy and sell sex. Back in September of 2022, the city was already addressing the possibility of trafficking incidents surrounding the big game. The local police are working with other agencies to find traffickers coming into Arizona leading up to February 12th.
“If you’re one of those people who’s trying to partake in these types of illegal activities in Arizona, there’s a very high likelihood that you will encounter a law enforcement officer in doing so,” said Sgt. Aaron Victor of the Glendale Police Department.
Victor also explained the “victim support” available to those vulnerable to trafficking. He said teams will be dedicated to responding to tips about trafficking leading up to the game.
WHAT CAN I DO?
So what can we do to address the larger year-round, nationwide, and even GLOBAL issue of sex trafficking?
- Increase our awareness and knowledge of the issue so we can keep our eyes open and help end criminal activity.
- Pray. Prayer is such a powerful way to combat trafficking and it accomplishes more than we think! We have a big God that cares about justice for the oppressed and freedom for the captives. As AIM CEO, Clayton Butler says, “God cares way more about ending trafficking than I ever could.” Let’s share in the heart of Christ and pray for this evil to end.
- Give what you can! Find the organizations that are doing the work to end trafficking and support them in whatever way you can. It will take all of us coming together to defeat this evil. We can’t do this work alone!
Here are resources and ways you can get help combat trafficking in your community:
- We’ve gathered some great information about understanding human trafficking and its local impact.
- Make awareness part of Game Day and donate your guess of what the final score will be to an anti-trafficking organization, then challenge your friends to do the same!
- Learn how you can be a part of this fight.
- Report suspected incidents of trafficking by calling the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888. This hotline is not only to report suspected trafficking but to provide help if you are or have been a human trafficking victim.
THE SUPER BOWL & TRAFFICKING THROUGHOUT THE YEARS:
Agape International Missions (AIM) was founded on the ground in Cambodia in 1988 as a humanitarian aid and church planting organization. Since 2005, our ministries have focused on ending the evil of child sexual slavery.
AIM is doing whatever it takes to end the evil of human trafficking. We believe in freedom at all costs. That means, we not only rescue individuals from trafficking, but we walk with them through healing and empower them in their new lives of freedom. Additionally, we work to prevent future exploitation by confronting the demand for purchased sex and protecting the vulnerable.
AIM has a US Headquarters in California with administrative staff and local, in-country staff for our programs.
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1 ^ World Population Review, 2021
2 ^ Rick Jervis, “Child sex rings spike during Super Bowl week” USA TODAY (2011)
3a ^ “Super Bowl is Single-Largest Magnet for Sex Trafficking Child Prostitution in US” News5Cleveland (2013)
3b ^ “Super Bowl is Single-Largest Magnet for Sex Trafficking Child Prostitution in US” News5Cleveland (2013)
4 ^ See also: Ernie Allen, President and CEO of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, speaking to the House Victims’ Rights Caucus Human Trafficking Caucus, Cong. Rec., 111th Cong., 2nd sess., 2010.