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I’m encouraged by the opportunity to write about human trafficking in previous articles and that many people have reached out with questions and suggestions. “What we do as individuals is important. What we do as individuals collectively is even more important.” Together we are a Special Task Force.

The first question was, “How do I spot human trafficking”? There are 101 answers, and none are foolproof or necessarily obvious. Be alert. Notice things like different traffic in the neighborhood or patterns. Listen to what people aren’t saying, what is said, who is saying it, and how it sounds. Are they undermining other people? Are they suddenly friendly? Too charismatic? Everyone has intuition, often called “gut reaction,” so pay attention when “something” doesn’t ring true. My friend calls all of these suggestions “situational awareness.”

I encourage everyone to try hard to buy slave-free food. I can see and feel the agony of trafficked families splitting up and children being beaten, drugged, and held captive, so I usually do without whenever I can. It’s hard to always know when slavery is behind our food, but we can do our best. Overseas seafood availability is often the result of trafficked young men on fishing vessels. In America and worldwide, agriculture often uses trafficked labor. Be wary if a farmer won’t answer questions or encourage a tour because trafficked laborers will hide in fear of being “sent back.” They don’t know who they can trust, and the law is usually not on their side without papers. Be curious. Do you see farm workers in town? Are their children in school? Are they involved in the community? We can’t tell if trafficking is involved just by driving by.

What blocks our ability to end human trafficking? Lack of awareness and disbelief affect not only prevention but also justice. Jurors don’t want to believe that their favorite (fill in the blank) is involved in trafficking, so instead, they assume it was a misunderstanding or the victim lied.

Corrupt law enforcement and government officials are often enough to prevent discovery. The lack of coordination between government agencies, Homeland Security, law enforcement, and task forces, and organizations to end trafficking must be addressed.

Worldwide, labor trafficking has not been considered an important issue. This causes under-reporting, leading to false data, incomplete data, and lack of action.


We can do better.

Trustworthy support organizations such as Polaris Project Home of Hope supports children who need our help.

Use computer search engines to learn about human trafficking. It happens all over the world and generally has the same patterns.

Force legislators to support laws that hold businesses accountable, close loopholes for money laundering, and ensure law enforcement has the tools they need to end the trafficking of drugs and humans, which are closely related crimes.

Actively support the building of children’s self-esteem and address ignored issues such as teen homelessness and food scarcity. Children deserve better than we currently give them.

Of course, we need justice and accountability, but that won’t end human trafficking. Only love can do that.

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