Last year on this page, around this day, we told you a whole bunch of stories.
Stories about little children who had been sexually assaulted and tortured and kidnapped. About children ripped away from their parents and their communities, sometimes right off the street near their homes or lured by promises made by criminals on the internet. Some victims were homeless. Others lived in nice homes in nice neighborhoods.
It’s not just happening in foreign countries. It’s in major America cities and in small towns, even in our region.
Many of the victims are held by their captors, subjected to conditions we wouldn’t wish on our worst enemies.
They become addicted to drugs. Some contract sexually transmitted diseases, including those that lead to cancer, and develop physical and mental health issues.
Other victims are sold into slavery.
Those that don’t fall victim to Stockholm Syndrome and Trauma Bonding make their escape. Some are rescued. Many die. None are ever the same.
They are the victims of human trafficking. And despite the recent attention, the problem continues to be a growing scourge on the human race.
If you’re not moved by the stories of victims, whose names and faces you don’t know, maybe you’ll be moved by the statistics.
According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, there were more than 40,000 contacts reported and nearly 11,000 human trafficking cases reported in the U.S. in 2018. Since 2007, there have been more than 229,000 cases reported and nearly 62,000 verified cases.
On a state-by-state comparison, New York ranked fourth in the country in terms of number of cases reported in 2018 with 492, behind California (1,656), Texas (1,000) and Florida (767).
Of all the cases nationwide, by far the most involve sex trafficking, followed by labor trafficking, other forms of trafficking, and a combination of labor and sex trafficking. The number of female victims outnumbers male victims 7-1.
And remember, these are only reported cases to the hotline. The actual number of victims is much, much higher.
Put a face to each of these numbers.
Picture your child or grandchild, your niece or nephew or your neighbor’s teenager. Imagine them being held against their will and kept in horrible conditions and sexually and physically abused, never knowing when or if it might end.
Then see if the stories and numbers still don’t move you to speak out and to contact your state and federal officials to demand more action and protections.
For more information and to report cases, visit the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888, or contact your local police agency.
Remember these victims and resolve to do something this coming year.