#minorsextrafficking | How to Spot Human Trafficking

How to Spot Human Trafficking

With U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley


Q: How has the pandemic impacted human trafficking?


A: As we
start the New Year and enter the third year of the pandemic, Americans are
gripped with soaring inflation and strapped with higher bills for groceries,
gas and housing. There’s also an insidious byproduct from the pandemic that’s
putting public safety at risk, particularly for young people. While parents and
employers continue to juggle the uncertainty of school and child care closures
that impact the workplace, remote learning and lockdowns in places around the
country led to a dramatic increase in unsupervised screen time for younger
generations. According to child welfare advocates, online predators took
advantage of the situation as they had an even larger pool of vulnerable young
people to target. To be clear, human trafficking is not new. The U.S. State
Department estimates nearly 25 million people around the world are enslaved for
sex, labor or servitude. Across federal law enforcement, hundreds of human
trafficking cases were opened in 2021, from the Department of Homeland
Security, Department of Justice, State Department and the Department of
Defense. Last year, the U.S. Marshals Service assisted with the recovery of
nearly 1,000 kids, including 21 missing Iowa juveniles who were found across
nine states as part of Operation Homecoming. The Marshals Service estimates one
of every six children recovered likely were victims of human trafficking.


For over a decade, National Human Trafficking Prevention
Month is observed in January to raise public awareness about the illegal
exploitation of people. It takes all eyes and ears in the community to root out
criminal enterprise that preys on young people and robs them of their dignity
for commercial sex, forced labor and other services. Iowans who suspect human
trafficking may report to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center
Hotline 24/7, every day of the year in more than 200 languages. Call (888)
373-7888 or chat online at humantraffickinghotline.org. Anonymous, confidential
tips also may be reported online or text HELP or INFO to BEFREE (233733).


Q: What are you doing from your leadership position in the
Senate to combat human trafficking?


A: Beefing
up detection and enforcement, expanding financial reporting requirements to
flush out criminal enterprises that launder money through shell corporations,
strengthening border security and empowering survivors with services as they
seek to reclaim hope and regain their dignity and freedom are key priorities
I’ve identified at the policymaking tables in Washington, D.C.  At my
recommendation, Iowan Teresa Davidson was appointed to serve on the
Public-Private Partnership Advisory Council to End Human Trafficking. She
brings Midwestern sensibility to the table and gives voice to how human
trafficking hits close to home here in America’s heartland. More than two
decades ago, Congress made human trafficking a federal crime with passage of
the Trafficking Victims
Protection Act
. I am working with a bipartisan coalition in the Senate on
the law’s reauthorization. During the Trump administration, I co-sponsored the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act to help stop online advertising that
targets minors for commercial sex. President Trump also signed the Frederick Douglass Trafficking
Victims Prevention and Reauthorization Act 
awards grants to local education agencies for training school staff and
teaching children about the dangers of human trafficking. In this session of
Congress, I’ll lead a bipartisan resolution in the U.S. Senate to recognize the
important work underway to combat human trafficking. 

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has issued guidance
for Americans to watch for indicators that may signal human trafficking crimes
at www.dhs.gov/bluecampaign.
It compiled a list of questions to help flag the
possibility of human trafficking (exploitation) or human smuggling
(transporting). Signs to look for include: does the individual seem coached on
what to say; has the child stopped
school or appear fearful, timid, or disoriented; has the person had a sudden or
dramatic change in behavior? Here’s how to report suspicious activity to the
DHS reporting hotline – (866) DHS-2-ICE, or (866) 347-2423. I encourage
Iowans to be mindful and talk to family and neighbors about these warning
signs. Human trafficking victimizes people of all ages, particularly
immigrants, children, runaways and foster youth.

January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention

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