Since it is National Human Trafficking Awareness and Prevention month, as I mentioned in a previous post, I would like to continue sharing about trafficking in my own back yard. This news report sheds some light on the problem as it is growing and changing today:
I find it especially heartbreaking that, as Betty Ann Boeving states, 60% - 70% of domestic trafficking victims are foster care youth. (Note: the phrase "domestic trafficking victims" here refers to trafficked individuals whose trafficking experiences originate in the United States, so these statistics would not include individuals who were brought to the U.S. from other countries.) Foster youth are much more likely to run away or may not have anywhere to go once they age out of the system. They are vulnerable to being kidnapped, or more commonly, to being picked up by someone on the streets who can "protect and provide for them." I also learned during my Court Appointed Special Advocate training that LGBT youth are more likely to be in the foster care system than their non-LGBT peers, due to a variety of factors, including conflicts with family over sexual orientation. They are also often vulnerable to being "kicked out of the house" by families and are therefore at higher risk for trafficking.
This is a real problem that is truly right down the street from many of us. One thing you can do to help is to become educated about the issue and keep your eyes open for anything suspicious (for example, many different men going to and from a home at all hours of the day and night - this type of observation has been how some trafficking rings have been uncovered!) If you are being trafficked, know of an instance of trafficking, or even have suspicions about something you saw, you can call the confidential Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline. You can also support organizations that are combating trafficking locally, such as the Bay Area Anti-Trafficking Coalition and the groups they work with. Or find organizations near you in other parts of the country through The Polaris Project. For additional information on international human trafficking issues, I would encourage you to check out International Justice Mission.