What To Know About Human Trafficking

Emma Kemp, Cen10 News Reporter

Story by Emma Kemp

What comes to mind when you hear the term “trafficking?” Maybe you think “oh that is such a horrible thing to happen to someone” or “that would never happen to me.” The thing is, it can, and we should not be oblivious to the serious possibility of human trafficking occurring in our community.

Before you can start prepping against trafficking, you need to know what to look for. In the United States, there are about 14,500-17,500 people trafficked annually; to put that in perspective, that is about the sum of students that attend a high school in our Frisco school district. The average age of a victim of trafficking is 12 to 14 years old; that age range is similar to the age of middle school students.

Don’t just assume that if you are male that you are safe. Studies have shown that 20% of victims are male with no specific age range. Human trafficking also isn’t limited to a specific genre of exploitation; victims could be forced into prostitution, slavery, labor work, etc.

There are multiple things to look out for, but one of the most dangerous ways for a trafficker to get hold of us is something we use almost everyday: social media.

According to MTV’s campaign “EXIT” that was made to help end exploitation and trafficking, predators online are able to have access to all your photos and videos, gaining information found in them. They also study your behavior online, noticing a sudden change in your posts or tweets and gives them a gap for them to sneak in and catch you at a time of weakness.

The big thing we should be asking ourselves though is “how can I have social media and be safe?” On almost all social media websites and apps, there is the option of having a private account; this option allows you to be in charge of who follows you and who has access to look at your account. Also, be aware that even on apps like Snapchat and Skype that offer non permanent streaming are still able to be screen shotted and recorded.

Another way predators can get access to you is by pretending to be someone they’re not and gaining your trust. Normally, this strategy is found online, but it has become present in our everyday lives. At parties, you often don’t know who everyone is, which is something very naive but also dangerous. Be aware of who you’re hanging out with at these events, and also be looking out for any strange persons following you; if you have a drink, keep a close eye on it. Having your drink being drugged is one of the most common ways a victim can be taken.

“DMing” is something that has become really popular in teenage society, but is also not all what it seems. You need to be careful of who you allow in your Direct Messages on apps like Twitter, Instagram, and even Facebook. Not only can the predator find out personal information from you just by asking, they can also grant access to information such as your location, security number, and much more by hacking into your account.

Don’t put the topic of human trafficking aside; it is something very present in our culture and could happen almost anywhere.