January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month
Every year, thousands of vulnerable people are exploited for profit in the United States. Since 2007, the National Human Trafficking Hotline has received over 300,000 contacts via calls, emails, and online chats and has identified over 70,000 cases of human trafficking in the country. As high as those numbers may seem, the actual number of cases and victims is expected to be much higher as a large number of human trafficking incidents go unreported.
In 2020, Arizona was ranked 13th in the country for human trafficking cases.
According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, there were 608 reports of human trafficking incidents in Arizona. Of these reports, 192 of them were from victims and survivors. Of these identified cases, 145 involved sex trafficking, 25 labor trafficking, and 8 involved both types. Adult women were the most common victims in these cases. A different study of human trafficking victims by the Polaris Project found that over 70% of the study participants were financially responsible for another person, which traffickers use to manipulate a victim.
Human trafficking, like many other crimes, thrives by remaining unseen, and while many think this crime takes place in faraway places, they fail to realize that it occurs in their communities and is not all that invisible. Every human trafficking case is different, but some signs can alert us to a situation where a person may require help.
- Controlling/dominating relationships
- A victim doesn't have access to documentation such as their ID, passport, driver's license
- Lack of knowledge and control of personal finances
- Monitored movement and communication; the victim doesn't make eye contact
- Signs of physical or sexual abuse
As always, you should pay attention to your instincts before deciding to intervene. People who care about their communities and are proactive about their family's safety- people like you- are among the best resources we have to prevent human trafficking. If you are interested in learning more, several online resources are available to teach you about human trafficking and what you can do to help.
Prosecutors at the County Attorney's Office specializing in child trafficking cases can provide education and training on the warning signs of sex trafficking to law enforcement, other first responders, teachers, nurses, victim advocates, and other government agencies.If you would like to schedule a training, you can call 602- 506-3411 or place a request through our Speakers Bureau Program.
Neighbors, teachers, and first responders can report suspected human trafficking activity or child exploitation to their local law enforcement or federal law enforcement at 1-866-347-2423. If you or someone you know needs support, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 or text HELP to 233733.