Two advocates were among those attending a press conference held on the steps of the Texas Capitol in February 2015 about ending human trafficking. (Photo: EthicsDaily.com)
The U.S. Human Trafficking Hotline (1-888-373-7888) and BeFree Textline (Text HELP to 233733) received a record number of contacts in 2016.
Total calls and texts have more than doubled in the last four years - moving from 3,409 (2012) to 8,042 (2016) - with a 24 percent increase taking place from 2015 to 2016, according to an annual report from the Polaris Project.
Sex trafficking was most prevalent (73 percent of all contacts), while labor trafficking made up 14 percent of contacts; no specified form of trafficking identified 9 percent, and joint sex and labor trafficking 4 percent.
Despite this disparity, Polaris explained, "labor trafficking soared by 47 percent but is still widely underreported. Labor trafficking often goes unrecognized compared to sex trafficking because of a lack of awareness about the issue and the vulnerable workers it affects."
Trafficking victims who were U.S. citizens (2,190) made up the vast majority of the 3,664 survivors whose nationality was provided. Other nations represented were Mexico (359), China (159), Philippines (119) and Guatemala (114).
Of the identified victims, many were first trafficked between ages 12 and 17 - sex trafficking (49 percent) and labor trafficking (36 percent). The average age of all sex trafficking victims is 18; for labor trafficking victims, it's 23.
The promise of a job was the leading tactic used by labor traffickers, while marriage proposition (or intimate partnership offer) was the leading tactic of sex traffickers.
Recent migration or relocation was the most common situation in which trafficking took place. Other risk factors include substance use, runaway / homeless youth, mental health issues and unstable housing.
The full report is available here.
Editor's note: EthicsDaily.com published in January a series on how local churches and nonprofit organizations are working (and can work) to address human trafficking, and a series related to trafficking and the Super Bowl:
A Baptist Report Card on Human Trafficking by Robert Parham
The Thin Line Between Prostitution and Sex Trafficking by Valerie Carter
One Church's Role to Put Dent in Sex Trafficking by Duane Brooks and Jen Whittenberg
Stopping Human Trafficking Begins in Our Churches by Pam Strickland
4 Steps You Can Take to Thwart Human Trafficking by Stacy Blackmon
What Your Church Must Know to Combat Human Trafficking by Elizabeth Goatley
How Baptist Women Fight Against Modern-Day Slavery by Candice Lee
Human Trafficking an Everyday Problem, Super Bowl City Says by EthicsDaily Staff
How One Church Tackled the Human Trafficking Fight by Jay Abernathy
Wisdom, Prayer Needed to Oppose Sex Trafficking by Tomi Grover
How Your Church Can Oppose Crime of Human Trafficking by Jennifer Allmon