News From Our Blog

How to Recognize and Prevent Human Trafficking

President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation 150 years ago, beginning the long road to freedom for the hundreds of thousands enslaved in homes, on farms, and other forms of industry. Considering how far we have come to abolish slavery as we once knew it, it might surprise some to learn that the Federal government is joining community partners to create a comprehensive strategic action plan to strengthen services for victims of human trafficking in its modern forms.

The International Labour Organization estimates that there are at least 21 million people around the world exploited in conditions of modern slavery, a dehumanizing practice of holding another person in compelled service. Human trafficking affects most countries, including the United States.

Human trafficking, or trafficking in persons, can take several forms and is defined by the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA) as follows:

Sex Trafficking: the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act, in which the commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age; and

Labor Trafficking: the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.

Identifying Victims of Human Trafficking

Victims of human trafficking are commonly found working in the following situations:

  • Prostitution and escort services;
  • Pornography, stripping, or exotic dancing;
  • Massage parlors;
  • Sexual services publicized on the Internet or in newspapers;
  • Agricultural or ranch work;
  • Factory work or sweatshops;
  • Businesses like hotels, nail salons or home-cleaning services;
  • Domestic labor (cleaning, childcare, eldercare, etc. within a home);
  • Restaurants, bars, or cantinas; or
  • Begging, street peddling, or door-to-door sales.

And may exhibit any of the following signs:

  • Evidence of being controlled either physically or psychologically;
  • Inability to leave home or place of work;
  • Inability to speak for oneself or share one’s own information;
  • Information is provided by someone accompanying the individual;
  • Loss of control of one’s own identification documents (ID or passport);
  • Have few or no personal possessions;
  • Owe a large debt that the individual is unable to pay off; or
  • Loss of sense of time or space, not knowing where they are or what city or state they are in.

See the fact sheet, Identifying Victims of Human Trafficking, for more information.

Help for Victims of Human Trafficking

The White House held a forum this morning to engage Federal partners and non-governmental stakeholders in ongoing efforts to combat human trafficking. In one announcement, HHS Deputy Secretary Bill Corr invited the public to comment on the draft Federal Strategic Action Plan on Services to Victims of Human Trafficking in the United States. Learn more on how you can end trafficking.

The Administration for Children & Families is committed to helping victims of human trafficking through programs and resources including:

Find more information about how we are working to fight human trafficking.

If you need assistance or think you have come into contact with a victim of human trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1.888.373.7888 or text BeFree (233733). The NHTRC can provide you immediate resources and help you identify and coordinate with local organizations.

Read this post in Spanish.