According to the U.S. Department of State 2012 Trafficking in Persons Report, more than 27 million individuals are victimized by human trafficking yearly, and 300,000 of these victims are children trafficked in the U.S. It also remains the second fastest growing criminal industry in the world and almost every trafficking incident is related to exposure to or the threat of violence.
As we’ve mentioned in previous posts, the consequences of trafficking are vast. The largest affected group are children – abused and neglected youth, girls, runaways, and homeless youth. Trafficked children are also among those that have a higher probability of being exposed to violence and experiencing negative outcomes, including poor mental and physical health and substance abuse issues. Additionally, some trafficked youth face further traumatic stress in the event of a rescue. Poor understanding and knowledge about trafficking in the U.S. has led to cases of children being arrested for prostitution and not receiving the services they need to cope with their experience.
The good news is real awareness and prevention efforts are on the rise to stop these experiences from happening. This month President Obama has proclaimed National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, 2013.
Several states are also redoubling their efforts to prevent and protect children from being trafficked. Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen has asked the State’s Department of Justice for $900,000 to expand services and employment for staff to work specifically on child sex trafficking prevention and prosecution efforts. In Louisiana anti-slavery advocates are promoting awareness efforts through a billboard campaign to end human trafficking and both state and non-profit agencies are improving efforts to collect data to promote prevention efforts.
As state and federal officials work to correct laws to protect children affected by trafficking everyone can help prevention efforts by first recognizing there is a problem and promoting education and community response. Please check out the links below to see more about new efforts to promote trafficking awareness and response.
Selling American Girls: The Truth About Domestic Minor Sex-Trafficking
Not For Sale Campaign
Passion 2013 Freedom Campaign
UNICEF launches ‘Believe in ZERO Exploited Children’ campaign