Human trafficking is hiding in plain sight

Human trafficking is an affront to human dignity. It is a modern form of slavery. It is an economically motivated crime in which a victim – through force, fraud or coercion – is compelled to engage in commercial sex acts or labor. Government reports indicate there are between 14,500 and 17,500 individuals in the U.S. who are trafficked every year. The most recent Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services report notes that 52 percent of the human-trafficking victims in the state were minors, and 11 percent of them were under the age of 12. The three states with the most human-trafficking activity are California, New York and Texas. Because New Orleans is a tourist hub, our city is magnet for those who are trafficked for sex. The Federal Human Trafficking Report in 2018 indicated that 95 percent of all active criminal trafficking cases at the federal level were sex-trafficking cases. The reports also indicated that “the vast majority of business models involved internet-based commercial sex.” So, social media is an indispensable tool in fueling human trafficking.

Since March 2016, the Covenant House provided 218 trafficking survivors with services, Sheri Lochridge said. As lead case manager at the youth shelter, Lochridge helps identify cases of human trafficking in New Orleans while working with law enforcement.

Last year, more than 90 female survivors of human trafficking sought services at New Orleans' Eden House, said Susanne Dietzel, director of that nonprofit.

Homeless youth are particularly vulnerable to human trafficking.

Many human traffickers target young people who do not have a strong family unit or support system

If you see something, say something.

There isn’t one tell-tale sign that a person is being trafficked. But if you suspect human trafficking in your community, here’s what you can do:

- Submit a tip to the National Human Trafficking Hotline by emailing help@humantraffickinghotline.org, submitting a tip through the online tip reporting form, and visiting the web portal at www.humantraffickinghotline.org. You can also call the hotline at 1-888-373-7888 or text at 233733.

- Volunteer at the Covenant House or Eden House.

 
Adrian Long

Adrian Long

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