National Human Trafficking Hotline Number
A Bridge of Hope (ABOH) is committed to doing our part to end human trafficking in our lifetime by utilizing the gifts and talents within our organization, it’s volunteers and the community at large. We are powerful beyond our wildest dreams and can bring forth awareness to end Modern-Day Slavery in this generation, by simply using our voices, socialized media, our resources, and our talents. ABOH focuses on two principles: 1.) educate the community to prevent future victims of human trafficking and 2.) help provide for identified trafficked victims. Victim services include counseling (peer and Christian), support groups, hygiene items, clothing, food, victim advocacy, referrals for outside services/programs, to aid clients towards recovery and a self-sufficient life.
The Faces of Human Trafficking:
What is human trafficking?
Human trafficking is defined as the sale, transport and profit from human beings who are forced to work for others; is the modern equivalent of slavery. Millions of people, against their will, around the world are forced to work for the profit of others, for example by begging, forced prostitution, forced commercial sexual exploitation of adults and children, child sex tourism, involuntary domestic servitude, debt bondage, forced labor (including migrant workers), bonded labor, forced child labor, child solders, organ breeding/harvesting, forced pregnancy for forced / illegal adoption, and so many more.
Actual statistics are hard to quantify and prove, so to give you an idea of what is being reported:
There are more slaves today, than any other time in our history. Thousands of youth are at-risk everyday in America and abroad of being introduced to the major players of human trafficking, which is truly organized crime. Now statistics on human trafficking or anything else are hard to prove and quantify for a variety of reasons, but even one person who is a victim of human trafficking is too many. Wouldn’t you agree?
There are thousands of people, all having drastically different stories, and vary in socio-economic backgrounds, ages, education, ethnicities, from all different parts of the globe, who have been victimized in various forms of human trafficking. The wide range of victims and situations that the victims are coming from really depict how heinous the human trafficking really is and how far it stretches across the globe. Human trafficking is modern-day slavery!
Below is a letter from a mother of a young girl who’s been trafficked. They lived on the West Coast of the United States, a middle-class family, a loving home, nurturing, non-abusive, and yet it still happened to them…
“Never in a million years did I think I would experience the world of prostitution. The oldest profession had become a part of my life and a part of my only daughter’s. My pride and joy who was raised with high values and morals, homecoming princess, cheerleader …a valuable young woman of society unbeknownst to her was sold for sex trafficking. Like many young women she began her adult life away from home attending college and enjoying the simplicity of work, school and friends. Her life changed when she turned 21 and befriended “Ashley”.
Ashley had begun to prey on my daughter’s need for the companionship of having a best friend. She groomed my daughter with “best friend” attention and exposed her to a life that was frowned upon by her family and when she protested, Ashley began to threaten and isolate her. It seems as if Ashley knew her weaknesses and exploited them in her favor. Granted my daughter has free will, she felt she did not have a choice but to be Ashley’s friend. The “friendship” ended when Ashley sold my daughter in to a local sex trafficking ring.
My daughter spoke of being at a party with Ashley in which she was ogled by men much older than her. When she voiced her discomfort she was threatened with her safety and was told that she was to do exactly as she was told to do. She was taken to an empty home, windows were blacked out and each room was with multiple mats on the floor. She began to fear the worst as she heard water continuously running in the upstairs bathroom and she began to silently plan her escape. (Mind you, this is all happening in a college town!) Within minutes she had found her courage, she crawled through an unlocked window and ran to a nearby home. She was let in by fellow college students however she did not tell them of her experience. Once Ashley had learned of her escape, she has made my daughter’s life hell.
There have been continuous threats upon my daughter’s life as well as against her family. Multiple defamatory online postings were created without her knowledge using her full name, phone number, email addresses and explicit photos. Our plea for help from our local police department was met with little of importance. Her life was not of value as she made the choice to become friends with Ashley. The exploitation from Ashley had made my daughter a criminal not a victim. There was no help to empower her to charge those who had sold her. Our city’s police department’s motto is “to serve and protect” there was no implications of offering to help and most certainly no offers to protect. There was just a shame placed upon her for the choice of befriending the wrong person and being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
With this attitude of the police department, how is any victim expected to trust those who we pay for protection? How is she expected to heal when she was failed by those who serve and protect? How do we as parents reinstate her trust in us since we told her she can call on them if she needed help? Police protection is a social right, the very enforcers of our social rights has caused social injustice! Those whom are exploited in human trafficking are NOT criminals they are victims who are forced into criminal acts to save their own lives. How can we expect victims to comply to society’s moral values when their lives are endangered?!
With such little help from law enforcement, I noticed there were even less resources available in my local area for those who have become victims of this exploitation. There was a not a local number for me to call to reach out for help for my daughter. The only available resource I was able to utilize was thousands of miles away in Tennessee. I contacted an organization, A Bridge of Hope in which a kind and empathetic voice on the line helped me to gain my composure and without judgment gave me the tools to empower ourselves and how to advocate for my daughter’s safety. Granted we were able to bring my daughter to safety, the battle is not over. In fact the battle has just begun for her to rebuild her life and to begin to heal from the horrors of being sold into sex trafficking. What an incredible burden to place on any individual of this great country which frowns greatly upon slavery.
There should not be shame placed on already burdensome shoulders. Their wounds should not be treated as insignificant nor should their soul be forever imprinted of the minute value that was placed upon their bodies. Every woman is a daughter of someone; she holds value in someone’s heart and will always be the exceptional woman she is envisioned to be. With that in mind the same vision needs to be ingrained in those who we entrust to protect us from the social injustices of human trafficking.
There is little information available to help those who are exposed to sex trafficking. Our society has silenced victims into hiding their shameful experiences. The value placed upon the souls of those who are sold is minimal and the scars will forever live in their hearts. Families are blamed due to their immoral behaviors or their lack of values. Truth of the matter is, sex trafficking can occur at anytime and anywhere. There is no discrimination of who can be a victim.”
How To Talk to Your Kids about Child Trafficking
by youth blogger & advocate Alexis Myers
A good relationship with your kids is ideal and is the foundation for their being confident leaders, loving parents themselves, and strong citizens. But did you ever think that having a good relationship with your kids would mean you’d have to talk about safety issues like child trafficking? By being informed and aware they are less likely to be seen as vulnerable by predators!
In the inaugural issue of Parenteen Magazine, publisher Jason Brown and his editorial team list 5 safety tips for parents to share with their kids – all so kids are more aware of potential dangers and stay safe.
5 key safety tips mentioned are:
1) Never let your children go places alone – Make sure they are always with an adult as a chaperone, if you cannot be there. When children get older make sure they are with a friend and use the “buddy system” (having one or more people with them at all times). Children are less likely to be appealing to predators if there are many, as they will be quicker to scream for help and alert attention. Remember, safety in numbers!
2) Practice “What If” Scenarios – Come up with different scenarios to help your child think about the dangers of a situation and how to best handle it. You may get these examples from simply watching the news together and asking him or her what they would’ve done in a certain situation or what could they have done to not be as vulnerable.
3) Have a List of Top Contacts – This list should be easily accessible and known by your children. Some contacts can be family members, neighbors, and other trusted adults. As a bonus you may want to have other important numbers on there such as community centers and other numbers that youth can call in case of an emergency. This list can either be on a piece of paper or stored under a specific category on a cell phone.
4) Teach your children to run away from danger – Emphasize to your children how they should run away from danger instead of running towards it. If anyone is invading their personal space or trying to grab them, then tell you children not be afraid to make a scene. If they are ever being followed, then they should try to go another way and call for help if needed. Safety is more important than politeness.
5) Talk openly with your children - Try your best to be open and really listen to your children yourselves though because you want to be able to have open communication. Know where your children are at all times by communicating (such as via text or a phone call). Make sure they know it’s ok to talk to you about issues going on in the world and feel free to share your own experiences as well. Teach your children the facts about human trafficking. Children feel more comfortable with parents when they aren’t afraid of them. Therefore, try not to get mad at children by over-yelling, instead try to talk to them rationally so they can learn their lesson. By getting overly mad at them, you may be scaring them away from telling you something in the future because they will not want to infuriate you. Also, they will be more willing to come talk to you if a problem arises.
Having a good relationship with your children makes them more likely to listen to you and trust what you have to say.
Potential Trafficking Indicators
Identifying Victims of Human Trafficking Potential Indicators & Red Flags
The following is a list of red flags to keep in mind when indicating a potential situation of or a victim of human trafficking. Taken individually, each indicator may not necessarily imply a trafficking situation. Furthermore, items on this list are not meant to be interpreted as present in all trafficking cases, nor is the list intended to be exhaustive. This list is intended to encompass transnational and domestic trafficking, as well as both sex and labor trafficking. Some indicators may be more strongly associated with one type of trafficking.
Common Work and Living Conditions: The Individual(s) in Question…
· Is not free to leave or come and go as he/she wishes
· Is under 18 years of age and is providing commercial sex acts
· Is in the commercial sex industry and has a pimp/manager
· Is unpaid, paid very little, or paid only through tips
· Works excessively long and/or unusual hours
· Is not allowed breaks or suffers under unusual restrictions at work
· Owes a large and/or increasing debt and is unable to pay it off
· Was recruited through false promises concerning the nature and conditions of his/her work
· Is living or working in a location with high security measures (e.g. opaque or boarded-up windows, bars on windows, barbed wire, security cameras, etc.).
Poor Mental Health or Abnormal Behavior: The Individual(s) in Question…
· Exhibits unusually fearful, anxious, depressed, submissive, tense, or nervous/paranoid behavior
· Reacts with unusually fearful or anxious behavior at any reference to “law enforcement”
· Avoids eye contact
· Exhibits a flat affect
Poor Physical Health: The Individual(s) in Question…
· Exhibits unexplained injuries or signs of prolonged/untreated illness or disease
· Appears malnourished
· Shows signs of physical and/or sexual abuse, physical restraint, confinement, or torture
Lack of Control: The Individual(s) in Question…
· Has few or no personal possessions
· Is not in control of his/her own money, and/or has no financial records, or bank account
· Is not in control of his/her own identification documents (e.g. ID, passport, or visa)
· Is not allowed or able to speak for him/herself (e.g., a third party may insist on being present and/or interpreting)
· Has an attorney that he/she doesn’t seem to know or to have agreed to receive representation services from
Other: The Individual(s) in Question…
· Has been “branded” by a trafficker (e.g. a tattoo of the trafficker’s name)
· Claims to be “just visiting” and is unable to clarify where he/she is staying or to provide an address
· Exhibits a lack of knowledge of whereabouts and/or does not know what city he/she is in
· Exhibits a loss of a sense of time
· Has numerous inconsistencies in his/her story
The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children intakes reports about missing children, younger than 18 years of age, who have run away from a parent, guardian or state care facility. Case management teams within the Critical and Runaway Unit provide technical assistance to law enforcement and support the runaway’s family. Case management teams also partner with law enforcement agencies to help locate runaway children believed to be victimized through child sex trafficking.
What to do if your child has run away
Immediately call your local law enforcement agency.
After you have reported your child missing to law enforcement, call the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children at 1-800-THE-LOST® (1-800-843-5678).
Ask law enforcement to enter information about your child into the FBI’s National Crime Information Center database, known as NCIC. Federal law requires a specific, timely response from law enforcement agencies. If you have any difficulties getting law enforcement to take a report or enter information about your child into this database see the federal laws listed in the Legal Resources for Runaway Children section. Also contact NCMEC at 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678) or your missing child clearinghouse.
When contacting NCMEC be prepared to provide detailed biographical information about your child as well as information about the circumstances surrounding the runaway event.
Community Human Trafficking Education