The Hidden Issue of Human Trafficking in the US

The Hidden Issue of Human Trafficking in the US

Leanna Marcus, Journalist

Human trafficking is an issue that affects over 40.3 million people worldwide. It is also the third largest international crime industry in the world, generating an estimated $32 billion each year. Sex trafficking affects both men and women, but a staggering 71% of trafficking victims are women and girls according to a 2016 Global Report on Trafficking in Persons by the UN.


Many Americans live in ignorance bliss of the harsh reality of sex trafficking. It is very easy to say it doesn’t happen in your neighborhood or area. The truth is simple: trafficking occurs 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in every neighborhood and zip code. Victims who are vulnerable and easy to target, such as runaways and homeless youth, are tricked or deceived into a life of exploitation and rape. According to The National Center Missing and Exploited Children, one in seven runaways were likely victims of child sex trafficking in 2017.

The truth is simple: trafficking occurs 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in every neighborhood and zip code.

An alarming amount of human trafficking, especially sexual exploitation, is done online. Close to 150,000 new escort ads are posted online everyday. Nearly two-thirds of children sold for sex in the United States are trafficked online. The Kent School of Social Work at the University of Louisville reports that 40% of area homeless youth had been victims of sex trafficking, and 70% of the sex trafficked youth reported that technology was used as part of their sex trafficking victimization. The sheer amount of child trafficking online shows that there is a demand. The consumers of this horrendous industry of exploiting adults and children is so prosperous for the reason that buying such services is not hard.


A 2017 documentary I Am Jane Doe highlighted one website in particular for making it easy to sell and buy sex trafficking victims, The website was one of the leading websites used by traffickers and their clients. However, this year the website was seized and taken down by federal authorities. Even though Backpage is gone, there are still thousands of sites that host the same kind of behavior and serve as a gateway for hundreds upon thousands of victims to be sold and mistreated.  


People, for the most part, are simply unaware of the volume and rate that human trafficking in the US occurs. The gigantic hush hush nature of it all makes it difficult to know the exact statistics, but the estimates are unsettling enough. Many victims never come forward with their stories out of fear of shame, retaliation, or simply a lack of understanding of what happened to them. It can seem as if there is nothing we can do. But there are many ways to help. Countless of organizations work to help stop human trafficking and care for victims on the national and global scale.

Human trafficking is as prevalent as ever and cannot and should not be ignored. You can’t sweep it under the wrong and ignore it if we ever want to stop and prevent it. You can help, you can make the change. Donate to accredited organizations, volunteer, and simply raise awareness. The easiest thing you can do is simply to educate yourself on human trafficking. Find out how to identify signs of trafficking and what to do.  



Colorado Organization for Victim Assistance

WINGS Foundation, Inc.



Hope Academy of the Denver Street School

Learn more:

Learn to Identify and Assist a Trafficking Victim


NEA – Learn More about the Human Trafficking Issue and Get Involved › Issues And Action › More Issues… › International Relations


What Is Human Trafficking?

Homeland Security


Ways to Join the Fight Against Human Trafficking…/take-action-7-ways-to-join-the-fight-against-human-traffick…