8,759 cases of human trafficking were reported to the National Human Trafficking Hotline last year. Despite popular belief, modern slavery is an extreme social issue in today’s society. Each year, human traffickers acquire billions of dollars by forcing people to provide labor or partake in commercial sex against their own will. As a resident of a city through which a major interstate runs, human trafficking is more prevalent to my life than I ever imagined it may be. As a young woman in a time in which human trafficking is more prevalent than ever, I have become passionate about pouring more time into learning the signs of human trafficking, strategies that can be used to reduce or even completely stop human trafficking, and how we as a country can unite to help the victims of human trafficking. In order to prevent human trafficking, it is imperative that we know the signs and remain constantly aware of our surroundings. According to Polaris, some of the most common red flags include poor mental health/abnormal behavior, poor physical health, and lack of control. Common living and work conditions of those plagued by human trafficking include working excessively long or unusual work hours, being under 18 years of age and partaking in commercial sex acts, or owing a large debt that he or she is unable to pay off. Although these are not all the indicators, these are a few of the most important signs to look for when human trafficking is suspected. As an advocate for the extinction of human trafficking, the most important step one can take is to be informed and know the signs of this crime. According to the U.S. Department of State, one of the most significant ways we can fight human trafficking is by being informed of one’s slavery footprint. Consumers should be knowledgeable of whom actually made the clothes or shoes they are purchasing by checking the Department of Labor’s List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor. In addition to being a knowledgeable consumer, one can also support anti-trafficking organizations, know the signs of human trafficking, and encourage local schools to involve ways school-aged children are targeted in their curriculum. According to the International Labor Organization, an estimated 40.3 million victims are affected by human trafficking globally. As mentioned previously, 8,759 cases of human trafficking and 10,615 individual victims were reported in the United States in 2017 according to Polaris; this shocking statistic only includes REPORTED cases. A multitude of cases remain unreported, so it is critical that we advocate for awareness of human trafficking and aid victims. Therefore, to identify a potential victim and provide proper care, it is essential that one knows the signs of human trafficking. Each victim of human trafficking has different needs in his or her treatment, so it is important that when one comes in contact with a victim of human trafficking, he or she is aware of the services provided in the community and can direct the victim in the appropriate direction of help. Ultimately, the most important aspect is that victims feel safe, supported, and respected in their treatment. Overall, human trafficking has been and will remain a momentous societal issue, but it is the responsibility of advocates against this crime to stand up and fight against it. While human trafficking may never be completely eliminated, united efforts can be made to significantly reduce its existence in our country and ultimately our world. The end of human trafficking is only one step toward making our world a safe and prosperous place for future generations.
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