Human Trafficking Lives In Michigan, And That's A Huge Problem
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Human Trafficking Lives In Michigan, And That's A Huge Problem

Stories and statistics from the second most trafficked state in the Nation.

Human Trafficking Lives In Michigan, And That's A Huge Problem

Human trafficking has been a large topic in the news lately, especially with Smallville’s Allison Mack being arrested in a sex trafficking case. But what exactly is human trafficking? Who is at risk? And more specifically, how common is it really?

Human trafficking is considered modern day slavery. The common misconception is that human trafficking is sex trafficking. However, this term pertains to both sex and labor. Human trafficking is considered the second largest criminal enterprise after drugs. It affects every community in Michigan across age, gender, ethnicity, and socio-economic backgrounds.

How common is human trafficking?

In 2016, Michigan was rated second in the Nation for human trafficking cases, Nevada taking the number one spot. As of 2017, Michigan has dropped to sixth, however, keep in mind these statistics are based on cases reported to the Human Trafficking Hotline. There are thousands of cases that go unreported, and unnoticed. In 2017, 306 trafficking cases were reported, an increase from 251 cases reported in 2016.

While attending classes at Eastern Michigan University, I encountered two female students in my psychology course that had been victims of human trafficking. Our instructor invited them to share their stories. I specifically remember the student from Dearborn. She shared how she went on a blind date, which turned out to be a set up for trafficking. She was manipulated and controlled, all while living under her parent's roof. Her traffickers had threatened to hurt her family if she did not obey. After three years, she was able to escape. She is one of the lucky few who was able to report and prosecute her traffickers.

Who is a target?

The most common misconception is that females from teens the to mid-twenties are at most risk. Statistically speaking the majority of cases were adult females, but that does not mean that children and males are not at risk. In 2017, 36 cases reported were male victims, 99 cases were minors, with adult females making up the remaining 171 cases. Traffickers do not discriminate.

How do traffickers control their victims?

Traffickers utilize various methods of force, fraud, or coercion to trap their victims in a human trafficking situation. These control tactics can make the idea of leaving their situation seem impossible.The most common methods reported in 2017 include isolation (including confinement), emotional abuse, economic abuse, threats of any kind, and physical abuse (non-sexual). Traffickers have a tendency to target vulnerable individuals such as those in the welfare/foster system, drug users, homeless/runaway, and persons who have recently relocated. However, that does not mean that because you live in a good neighborhood, you're not at risk.

What preventative measures can you take for yourself and your family?

With summer coming and school being closed, this is an important topic to discuss with children, teens, and young adults. Always be alert to your surroundings, especially while traveling. Monitor social media, do not add people you do not know. If your account is public, monitor the amount of personal information you are sharing.

What can I do if I suspect someone is being trafficked?

If you suspect someone is being trafficked, report it immediately to the Michigan Human Trafficking Hotline. You can report via phone, text, or computer. For more information, visit their website.

All statistics were taken from The National Human Trafficking Hotline and The PolarisProject.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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