January 10, 2019

Human Trafficking: What You Need to Know

Arlanda Smith, MSN, WHNP-BC

Did you know that January is National Human Trafficking Prevention Month?  Well, this is a national campaign to bring awareness to human trafficking.  Human trafficking is a crime that is considered modern day slavery, where people profit through the control and exploitation of others.  Traffickers use force, fraud, and coercion to control another person for the purpose of engaging in commercial sex acts, soliciting labor or other services against another’s will. It is a multi-billion dollar industry, and according to the International Labor Organization, it affects an estimated 25 million people around the world.

Victims of human trafficking are lied to, assaulted, threatened, or manipulated into working under illegal or otherwise unacceptable conditions to perform labor services or sex acts. Around the country, and right here in Michigan, men, women, and even children are forced into prostitution, domestic servitude, and other labor services for little or no pay.  In Michigan, human trafficking is commonly regarded as the second largest criminal enterprise after drugs.

Human trafficking affects every community in Michigan, touches every age, gender, ethnicity, and socioeconomic back ground.  Children are especially vulnerable for human trafficking, and a staggering number of cases involve the sexual exploitation of a child.  In 2018 in Michigan alone, of the 176 human trafficking cases reported, 53 were children, and nationally there were 1,399 cases involving children.

How Can I Help?

Be Aware

  • Sex Trafficking has been found in a wide variety of venues.
  • Labor Trafficking has been found in diverse labor settings including domestic work in hotels, massage parlors, nail salons, small businesses, large farms, and factories.

Ask Yourself

If you suspect something is wrong, ask yourself these questions:

  • Are there bruises or other signs of physical abuse?
  • Are there signs of psychological abuse?
  • Is the person submissive or fearful?
  • Is the person being controlled?
  • Is the person being deprived of food, water, sleep, medical care, or other necessities?
  • Is the person allowed to be in public alone?
  • Can the person freely contact friends or family?
  • Is the person a minor engaged in commercial sex?
  • Does the minor appear to be in a relationship with a much older person?

3.)  Report

If you suspect a child or an adult is a victim, or at risk of becoming a victim, please call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1-888-373-7888. For individuals who are in imminent danger call 9-1-1 immediately.


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