According to Homeland Security, Human Trafficking involves the use of force, fraud or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act. The following article was written by Morgan Wade, Harrison County Extension Family & Community Health Intern and Wiley College Senior.

Sex trafficking is on the rise and should be taken as a serious issue.

You should take precautions whether you are male or female.

Sex trafficking is human trafficking for sexual exploitation- this is sexual slavery.

A victim is forced into a situation of dependency on their trafficker and then used by the trafficker to give sexual services to customers.

Worldwide, it is estimated that there are 4.5 million victims of sex trafficking- do not take this lightly.

There were 1,000 sex trafficking cases reported in Texas, in the year of 2018; 719 cases were sex trafficking- 477 adult cases and 224 minor cases.

The top venues or industries for sex trafficking are illicit massage/spa businesses, hotels/motels, and online.

Some ways a victim is taken is by being distracted or deceived. A predator or trafficker may write on a person’s car and then proceed to capture.

A trafficker may also have the sounds of a crying baby to lure victims in and proceed to capture, but one of the biggest ways traffickers select victims and sale victims is by the internet.

The internet is such a fast and easily accessible tool that traffickers can lie about a victims age and can discretely make sales.

The United States is a source, transit and destination country for sex trafficking victims.

Trafficked men, women and children are typically taken to brothels, escort services, massage parlors, strip clubs or hotels and are prostituted on the streets or forced to participate in pornography.

Primary countries of origin for foreign victims in FY 2013 were Mexico, the Philippines, Thailand, Honduras, Guatemala, India and El Salvador.

Americans may also be trafficked within the U.S. or sent to other industrialized states such as the Netherlands, Germany and Japan (End Slavery Now, 2019).

Signs that may be noticeable to spot a sex trafficking victim is constant runaway episodes, multiple cell phones, returning with expensive clothing or accessories and they don’t have a source of income, unique tattoos- maybe the trafficker’s name or a number, if the child or victim is seen constantly with someone 10 or more years older than them.

It should be considered everyone’s duty to help lower these numbers and statistics to protect futures, memories, and simply lives.

It is time that we pay close attention and put an end to human trafficking.

Don’t forget there will be a human trafficking awareness seminar at the Harrison County Extension office on December 3, 2019 from 6pm-8pm. Refreshments will be served. Please call (903) 935-8414 today to RSVP!

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Louraiseal McDonald is the county agent for family and community health in Harrison County.