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Debunking the Myths about Human Trafficking

September 1, 2020

One of the priorities of the Viatorian Community is to fight human trafficking. Consequently, the community actively supports efforts by the Polaris Project in fighting all forms of human slavery.

Since 2007, Polaris has operated the U.S. National Human Trafficking Hotline — 888-373-7888 — which provides 24/7 support and a variety of options for survivors of human trafficking to get connected to help and stay safe.

Yet, at this unprecedented moment, the world feels like a far more dangerous place for our children than ever before. So when our social media feeds begin to fill up with misinformation about complex and secretive child sex trafficking rings, even the most implausible scenarios feel a little more believable than they might have just a few months ago.

In an effort to debunk these myths, here is some information from the Polaris Project:

U.S. law defines human trafficking as the use of force, fraud, or coercion to compel a person into commercial sex acts or labor or services against his or her will. The one exception involves minors and commercial sex. Inducing a minor into commercial sex is considered human trafficking regardless of the presence of force, fraud or coercion.

Chances are there is going to be nothing visible, nothing that you can see from across the room, or even from up close, that should alert you that a stranger is a victim of human trafficking. That may come as a surprise – especially if you have seen posters or been to training sessions that offer “indicators” of trafficking, such as a person looking disheveled, upset or scared.

Human trafficking is complex and dynamic. It is widespread but exact numbers are hard to come by. It follows patterns, but every situation is also unique. There is so much more to learn, and so much misinformation already out there. Here’s what we really know.

In 2019, Polaris worked on 11,500 situations of human trafficking reported to the Polaris-operated U.S. National Human Trafficking Hotline. These situations involved 22,326 individual survivors; nearly 4,384 traffickers and 1,912 suspicious businesses. Human trafficking is notoriously underreported. Shocking as these numbers are, they are likely only a fraction of the actual problem.

Here are the rest of the statistics from 2019.