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What is Human Trafficking?


Human trafficking is modern-day slavery and 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 in countries around the world, including the United States. It is estimated that human trafficking generates many billions of dollars of profit per year, second only to drug trafficking as the most profitable form of transnational crime.

Human trafficking is a hidden crime as victims rarely come forward to seek help because of language barriers, fear of the traffickers, and/or fear of law enforcement.

Traffickers use force, fraud, or coercion to lure their victims and force them into labor or commercial sexual exploitation. They look for people who are susceptible for a variety of reasons, including psychological or emotional vulnerability, economic hardship, lack of a social safety net, natural disasters, or political instability. The trauma caused by the traffickers can be so great that many may not identify themselves as victims or ask for help, even in highly public settings.

Many myths and misconceptions exist. Recognizing key indicators of human trafficking is the first step in identifying victims and can help save a life. Not all indicators listed are present in every human trafficking situation, and the presence or absence of any of the indicators is not necessarily proof of human trafficking.

The safety of the public as well as the victim is paramount. Do not attempt to confront a suspected trafficker directly or alert a victim to any suspicions. It is up to law enforcement to investigate suspected cases of human trafficking.



Trafficking Statistics

  • Approximately 21 million adults and children are bought and sold annually.
  • 4.5 million people are exploited each year in the global sex trade.
  • Between 100,000 and 300,000 American minors are lured in to the commercial sex trade annually.
  • The average age of trafficking victims worldwide is 9-14 years old.
  • The International Labor Organization estimates that forced labor and human trafficking is a $150 billion dollar industry worldwide.
  • In 2014, Collier County FL. Law Enforcement reports there were 27 Human Trafficking Cases, 19 victims rescued, 11 of which were juveniles, and all were females born in America. 

Scouting Venues & Most Common Recruiting Areas

The Urban Institute Study
Copyright © March 2014. The Urban Institute. All rights reserved. Permission is granted for reproduction of this file, with attribution to the Urban Institute.


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