Human Trafficking in the United States

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Some people have a fear of heights, spiders, or even the dark but in America, the level of fear is far greater. Lions, tigers, and bears are the least of the worries for Americans due to the multiplicative issue of sex trafficking. Sex trafficking includes the purchase of women, children, and in some cases men to be used as sex slaves. Instead of recognizing victims and giving them proper assistance, United States citizens and lawmakers disavow human trafficking.

Among the many exigencies in America, sex trafficking could possibly be the most demented issue.

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Laws are created to protect the people of this country but sometimes those laws end up hurting the majority of sex trafficking victims. In Sex trafficking and exploitation of minors serious problems in the U.S. the author writes, Commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors should be understood as acts of abuse and violence, the report says. All states have statutory rape laws specifying that a child under a certain age cannot legally consent to having sex and must be treated as a victim of a crime. ( sexual exploitation of minors ). Despite certain states having statutory rape laws, victims who end up as prostitutes still end up becoming incarcerated for prostitution. Victims of sex trafficking are neglected and are not getting the proper assistance due to certain laws.

The effects of sex trafficking can be very dangerous and sometimes life-threatening for victims as described in Tish Davidson’s article Human Trafficking . Not only do victims have emotional trauma to live with but also physical trauma and chronic illnesses. Finding ways to prevent trafficking will also prevent the spread of disease and considerably lower the number of people with mental illnesses. Davidson believes that educating individuals of the signs of sex trafficking such as suspicious job offers will greatly reduce the number of victims. Also, encouraging individuals to report suspicious activity to law enforcement will also cut back on this disgusting form of slavery. Davidson reports, Malnourishment can be a problem faced by victims, especially children, who do not have their basic needs taken care of such as health and dental care. Depression, anxiety, panic attacks, and other mental disorders are common among trafficking victims who are forced to live and work in fear. Sexually exploited victims risk being infected by sexually transmitted and other communicable diseases such as sex immunodeficiency virus (HIV), tuberculosis, and hepatitis B. These diseases can become a larger public health threat when they are transmitted across borders through the transportation of human trafficking victims. Victims may also be forced or willingly participate in drug use, adding to the spread of disease. (Davidson) The victims who actually do survive endure physical and emotional trauma which makes others susceptible to these illnesses. The traffickers do not care about the well-being of the victims, they only care about the money and drugs that come from the growing industry. In his article Human Trafficking and Slavery, Kiener states Because of the abundant supply, traffickers do not spend a lot of money on their maintenance. If a slave gets sick or injured, outlives his usefulness or becomes troublesome, he may be dumped or killed (Kiener)

The New Abolitionist Movement is fighting against all forms of human trafficking the main target being sex trafficking. David Canton describes how all aspects of trafficking must be acknowledged and destroyed throughout the world and throughout the country. In his article New Abolitionist Movement Canton explains that the movement provides a way for everyone to fight back against the monsters who are destroying lives, by boycotting and exploiting companies who allow slaves to make their products. The movement is also providing extra assistance to victims of sex trafficking. The New Abolitionist Movement is showing Americans that slavery still exists in the United States and needs to be abolished. Canton claims, Because multinational corporations continue to demand and use cheap labor, the problem of human trafficking and slavery remains. Whereas many Americans view slavery as an issue in developing nations, the new abolitionist movement demonstrates that slavery exists in the United States. The movement has used tactics from other social movements, including publicity, boycotts, and lobbying, to ensure that modern slavery in the United States is eliminated. (Canton)

Securing the United States from outsiders can drastically reduce sex trafficking. If the borders were stronger and had better security, such as a wall around the country or more border patrol officers, that alone would make it nearly impossible for criminals to get into the country in the first place. Statistics show that over 1,500 victims in 2017 were foreigners. (Hotline) This means that at least 1,500 people crossed our border illegally or were brought here against their will. Either way, with a more secure border, those victims would not have been taken in the first place. Although preventing 1,500 individuals from becoming victims is not anywhere near ending sex trafficking, it definitely helps. Vehicle searches at the border should be enforced to prevent kidnapped individuals from crossing over into another country. Once criminals get into the country, it makes it virtually impossible to locate a missing person. In his article Human Trafficking and Slavery, Robert Kiener says Even the United States is not immune. The government estimates that up to 17,500 people are trafficked into the United States each year. And prosecutions are on the rise: In 2011 prosecutors filed 118 cases against traffickers in the United States up 19 percent over 2010 and the most ever charged in a single year. (Kiener) Despite prosecutions being on the rise for suspects, human trafficking still owns many innocent people.

Raising awareness through social media, community groups, and by reaching out to schools will allow patrons to become more educated about sex trafficking. As rapid as stories spread on social media, everyone should be more educated about sex trafficking. Sharing warnings from law enforcement and stories from trafficking victims is a very effective way to bring awareness to the expeditiously growing issue. Gathering communities for monthly meetings and creating a neighborhood watch team will drive traffickers away. If a suspect knows that a community is aware of their surroundings and is on high alert, most likely, they will avoid that area. If teenagers and children were more aware of the dangers of sex trafficking, they would be less likely to become a victim. This is why it is crucial for schools to educate their students and make them less vulnerable. The National Academy of Sciences says in the article Sex Trafficking and Exploitation of Minors :

Despite the gravity of the problem, there is no reliable estimate of the scope or prevalence of commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors, the report says; estimates of the number of prostituted children and adolescents in the U.S., for example, have ranged from 1,400 to 2.4 million. These crimes are overlooked and almost surely underreported because they frequently happen at the margins of society and behind closed doors, and the young people involved often do not recognize themselves as victims of abuse. Those especially vulnerable to exploitation include youths who have been neglected or abused; those in foster care or juvenile detention; lesbian, gay, transgender, and bisexual youth; racial and ethnic minorities; and homeless, runaways, and “”thrown-away”” children who have been asked or told to leave home. (Nat’l Academy of Sciences)

Given the statistics of what to look for, there is no reason for minors in the United States to not be educated and aware of sex trafficking. Every parent, teacher, coach, tutor, etc. should be discussing it with minors on a daily basis to ensure the safety of minors and remind them to be aware of everything they do. The cyber form of trafficking is so prevalent amongst minors that it is almost impossible to monitor the internet use of children. Traffickers have discovered ways to track down almost anyone through the internet and children and women are their top priority. Peter Katel states in his article Transitional Crime that Cyber-extortion is part of a much broader problem that the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) calls transnational organized crime. It includes not only cross-border hacking but also ivory and wildlife smuggling, piracy on the open seas, counterfeiting of high-end, name-brand products and trafficking in drugs, human organs, weapons and sex workers (Katel) Katel puts a light on topics the country is trying to dim and shut out. In his article, he discusses how young girls aren’t given an option of whether they are taken or not. It’s absolutely crucial to teach minors about the dangers of human trafficking!

It is crucial for lawmakers and government officials to make sure that the minimum punishment for convicted traffickers is enough to slow the issue down. Kiener states with trafficking on the rise, many are asking whether the laws are tough enough. ‘The short answer is no,’ says George Mason University’s Shelley. Penalties need to be harsher and existing laws need to be better enforced. Given the size of the problem, there are almost no cases. And traffickers are often given minimal sentences because of corruption. There is a lack of political will to get tougher’ (Kiener) If lawmakers do not step up and make the punishment for these crimes more severe, the issue will never be fully seized. When there is no viable punishment, criminals will not be afraid of getting caught. Sex trafficking is a billion dollar industry that is growing nonstop and harsher laws will help demolish the issue. Kiener states that Other than the meager chance of being caught, there is almost no real risk to being a sex trafficker, because of the anemic penalties prescribed in the law, said Siddharth Kara, a fellow on sex trafficking at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. For example, as Kara noted, in India there is no financial penalty for sex slavery; Italy and Thailand also have no financial penalties for sex trafficking. (Kiener) Lawmakers have not been very strict on sex trafficking and that is exactly why it is so rampant.

All things considered, recognizing and reporting suspicious activity of sex trafficking would greatly reduce the number of victims affected. Being aware of your surroundings everywhere is the most common piece of advice given to protect yourself from becoming a victim. The odds of getting kidnapped are significantly greater with vulnerable individuals. Being aware of your surroundings can mean anything from watching your back to keeping a weapon on your person. There is also a sex trafficking hotline (1-888-373-7888) that can easily be saved and called to report suspicious activity.

Works Cited

Canton, David. “”New Abolitionist Movement.”” Encyclopedia of Race and Racism, edited by Patrick L. Mason, Gale, 2nd edition, 2013. Credo Reference, Accessed 14 Nov. 2018.

Davidson, Tish. “”Sex Trafficking.”” Gale Encyclopedia of Public Health, edited by Gale, 1st edition, 2013. Credo Reference, Accessed 14 Nov. 2018.

Katel, Peter. Transitional Crime. CQ Researcher, 29 Aug. 2014,

Kiener, Robert. Human Trafficking and Slavery. Human Trafficking and Slavery, 16 Oct. 2012,

National Academy of Sciences. “”Sex trafficking and exploitation of minors serious problems in the U.S..”” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 September 2013.

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Human Trafficking in the United States. (2020, Mar 11). Retrieved from