Understand Human Trafficking

Modern day slavery, or human trafficking, is more prevalent than many realize.

According to the Department of Homeland Security, human trafficking is “the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act”. Women and girls forced into prostitution to the profit of a trafficker; men and children coerced into working in hazardous conditions under debt bondage and unfair wages… These are just a few examples of the different types of trafficking that exist in the world today. But how do we understand human trafficking and how it affects our neighborhood?

As your awareness grows, the urgency to act intensifies. Learning about the issue close to home expands our understanding and awareness of the complexity of human trafficking, the factors that contribute to it, and the work being done to address it. And when you start to understand these things, we can start to think about how to stop human trafficking once and for all, in our neighborhoods and around the world.

3 Ways to Understand Human Trafficking

  1. Learn About the Impact of Trafficking in Your Area
  2. Explore Who is Vulnerable
  3. Work with Organizations on the Frontlines

Context and perspective are key in understanding trafficking’s impact in your area and what you can do about it. All of these will shape your next steps. 

1. Learn About the Impact of Trafficking in Your Area

Human trafficking may seem like a far-away issue that occurs in “other” places, but the sad reality is that trafficking can take place anywhere. Vulnerabilities that lead to trafficking are not exclusive to developing countries or dark, back alleys. The fact of the matter is, every country in the world, and every state in the United States, has problems with human trafficking. The first step to learning how to stop human trafficking is understanding the impact in your area. Click below to see what the stats are in your state.

1. Learn About the Impact of Trafficking in Your Area

Human trafficking may seem like a far-away issue that occurs in “other” places, but the sad reality is that trafficking can take place anywhere. Vulnerabilities that lead to trafficking are not exclusive to developing countries or dark, back alleys. The fact of the matter is, every country in the world, and every state in the United States, has problems with human trafficking. The first step to learning how to stop human trafficking is understanding the impact in your area. Click below to see what the stats are in your state.

2. Explore Who is vulnerable

Preventing trafficking before it ever happens is key in gaining ground in the fight to end it. In order to develop or support preventative measures, we must understand where and to whom it’s most likely to happen. Anyone can be the victim of trafficking, but understanding what makes a person or location more vulnerable is critical in preventing it before it ever happens.

Each area has its own unique vulnerabilities that make trafficking more likely. We encourage you to consider which of these might be impacting your community and how they are (or are not) being addressed. [Click each for more info]

Being a child automatically implies vulnerability. As children, we look to trusted adults in our lives for guidance, safety, and unconditional love. When adults take advantage of this power in a child’s life, the unimaginable can become reality. This is especially true for kids and teens who identify as LGBTQ+. Oftentimes, traffickers can be relatives, friends, or trusted adults. 

In addition to being underage, foster children can be targeted because of the lack of stability in their lives. In looking for stability or consistency, teens in the foster care system may fall into the traps of older teens/young adults who wish to exploit them. 

According to Love 146, “Children from culturally and linguistically diverse communities are more than 2x more likely to experience sex trafficking as children who identify as white.” No matter your political beliefs, we can all agree that children should be protected from the horrors of trafficking of any form, especially sex trafficking. Undocumented workers and their families are specifically vulnerable to exploitation since they are unlikely to reach out to authorities and police for assistance. 

It may seem obvious, but those who are at an economic disadvantage are more likely to be manipulated and exploited by those in a position of power. This includes working for unfair wages and/or without benefits, being forced into servitude (i.e. domestic servitude or sexual exploitation), or debt bondage. It’s hard to believe, but this type of trafficking DOES happen in the United States! When people are desperate for basic necessities, they are a target for traffickers and predators. 

Many big cities or towns have access to major highways, airports, train stations and more. This, combined with the sheer amount of people, make these places hotspots for traffickers to prey off of. When you combine this situation with the above vulnerabilities, you create a disgustingly perfect scenario for trafficking to take place. 

This by no means is an exhaustive list of vulnerabilities. We hope that those listed have given you an idea of what types of situations increase the risk of human trafficking. Whether you live in a big city or small town, be challenged to think critically and identify what vulnerabilities are affecting your area, region, or state. Vulnerabilities are present wherever people are.

3. Work with organizations working on the frontlines

Now that you’ve gained some perspective and insight on how trafficking is impacting your community and the factors contributing to it, it’s time to see which organizations are meeting your community’s most pressing needs. 

To start, sit down with the missions team at your church to learn about local nonprofits and charities. What you may come to realize is that your church is already actively partnering alongside some organizations. 

Explore nonprofits on Guidestar or Charity Navigator. Connect with any local nonprofit networks who are active near you. Contact your local CASA representatives to learn about the foster care system in your area.

You could become a CASA advocate to stand up for children in the foster system who are vulnerable to exploitation. Serve with organizations protecting families from exploitation by  addressing food insecurity or homelessness. Volunteer as a mentor through local youth outreach organizations. Don’t underestimate the impact serving at your church can have in meeting the needs of your community. Serve in your church’s kids or student ministry to encourage and love on kids who might be in need of mentorship and support. 

Are you still unsure of where to begin? Check out resources below to find which anti-trafficking organizations are working in your area!
How to stop human trafficking

How to stop human trafficking

Once you’ve discovered which organizations are actively serving your community, reach out. Give them a call, take a tour, meet their team, learn about their efforts, ask about their needs and opportunities for involvement. You could provide resources, financial or tangible. Serve with them or join in on their outreach efforts. You could rally the support of businesses or churches around them. Be an advocate for them and their work. Raise awareness for the issue of human trafficking and how these organizations are in the fight!

This is a lot of information! You have seen how trafficking is affecting your area. You have learned about which vulnerabilities may be impacting your community. You’ve done the work to research organizations near you who are working to address these vulnerabilities and end exploitation. You are starting to understand what you can do to help stop human trafficking. Now, we have laid out an easy-to-use PDF so that you can keep track of all of this information and what steps you will take next! 

This is a lot of information! You have seen how trafficking is affecting your area. You have learned about which vulnerabilities may be impacting your community. You’ve done the work to research organizations near you who are working to address these vulnerabilities and end exploitation. You are starting to understand what you can do to help stop human trafficking. Now, we have laid out an easy-to-use PDF so that you can keep track of all of this information and what steps you will take next! 

Want to hear more stories of freedom?

Sign up for our newsletter!