Human Trafficking: Rise Up for Children

National News

ELMIRA, NY (WETM) – Today is World Day against Trafficking in Persons.

In 2013, The UN member states adopted a resolution which designated July 30 as the World Day against Trafficking in Persons. They declared that such a day was necessary to “raise awareness of the situation of victims of human trafficking and for the promotion and protection of their rights.”

According to the a report released by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in December of 2016, women and girls comprise 71% of human trafficking victims. According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), around 21 million people are victims of forced labor globally, and of these, a significant number are also trafficking victims.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security defines Human Trafficking as:

Human trafficking involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act. Every year, millions of men, women, and children are trafficked worldwide – including right here in the United States. It can happen in any community and victims can be any age, race, gender, or nationality. Traffickers might use violence, manipulation, or false promises of well-paying jobs or romantic relationships to lure victims into trafficking situations.

More locally, the number of cases is increasing, New York has moved from the state with the 5th most reported cases of human trafficking in 2016 to the 4th highest in 2019. Although the numbers did slightly drop for 2019 from 2018, there were still 454 cases reported to the National Human Trafficking Hotline in New York State. In Pennsylvania, which was 16th highest in 2015, has moved up to the 9th highest on the list for 2019, with over 270 cases in 2019.

There are many organizations that are attempting to supplement the fight of human trafficking. One such organization is Operation Underground Railroad (O.U.R.) Tim Ballard, Founder & CEO of Operation Underground Railroad says in a memo

Unfortunately, child sex trafficking and online child exploitation are the types of crime you have to proactively search for in the deepest, darkest corners, which means more time and more resources.

— Letter from Tim Ballard, Founder and CEO of Operation Underground Railroad

He also goes on to say in his letter methods of assistance that he feels every county and state, needs that O.U.R. assists with

In order for our country to effectively continue to fight child sex trafficking, every unit should have a forensic mobile lab, electronic detection K9, and advanced training. This is something that we have yet to see in every county and state. Taking even more resources away will be a step backwards in this fight to end modern-day slavery.

— Tim Ballard, Founder and CEO of Operation Underground Railroad

You can read the full letter from Ballard below

Operation Underground Railroad specializes in empowering law enforcement and aftercare partners around the world with the tools and resources they need to better address trafficking in their communities. One major objective is to assist law enforcement to confront the demand for sex by providing tools, resources, and trainings to improve law enforcement’s ability to identify, investigate, gather incriminating evidence, and prosecute sexual predators. O.U.R. Aftercare focuses on survivor healing and empowerment programs with a primary focus on eliminating the vulnerabilities that increase the likelihood of being trafficked.

A question you may be asking yourself is, what can I do? There are numerous resources online that can provide training, with many of them being available for free or for a low cost.

Some sources of training and information can be:

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

Operation Underground Railroad

Darkness To Light

Also, there are Indicators of Human Trafficking that have been released by the Department of Homeland Security. Recognizing key indicators of human trafficking is the first step in identifying victims and can help save a life. Here are some common indicators to help recognize human trafficking. You can also download or order the Blue Campaign indicator card, which is a small plastic card that lists common signs of trafficking and how to report the crime.

  • Does the person appear disconnected from family, friends, community organizations, or houses of worship?
  • Has a child stopped attending school?
  • Has the person had a sudden or dramatic change in behavior?
  • Is a juvenile engaged in commercial sex acts?
  • Is the person disoriented or confused, or showing signs of mental or physical abuse?
  • Does the person have bruises in various stages of healing?
  • Is the person fearful, timid, or submissive?
  • Does the person show signs of having been denied food, water, sleep, or medical care?
  • Is the person often in the company of someone to whom he or she defers? Or someone who seems to be in control of the situation, e.g., where they go or who they talk to?
  • Does the person appear to be coached on what to say?
  • Is the person living in unsuitable conditions?
  • Does the person lack personal possessions and appear not to have a stable living situation?
  • Does the person have freedom of movement? Can the person freely leave where they live? Are there unreasonable security measures?

Not all indicators listed above are present in every human trafficking situation, and the presence or absence of any of the indicators is not necessarily proof of human trafficking.

Contact your local law enforcement agency if you have any information on any crimes again children or human trafficking.

You can also report suspected human trafficking to Federal law enforcement at 1-866-347-2423. OR get help from the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 or text “HELP” or “INFO” to BeFree (233733)

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