What is human trafficking?
Human trafficking is a crime involving the exploitation of someone for the purposes of compelled labor (labor trafficking) or a commercial sex act (sex trafficking) by using force, fraud, or coercion. When victims of sex trafficking are minors, also referred to as commercially sexually exploited children, the situation is still considered human trafficking even if the elements of force, fraud or coercion are not present. The word “trafficking” can be confusing—the activity does not have to cross any national, state, or other border to be considered human trafficking.
How common is it?
Human trafficking affects people across the world, and it’s happening right in our own back yard in nearly every Tulare County community. While more research is needed on the scope of human trafficking, below are a few key local and national statistics:
- In 2016, Family Services worked with 37 victims of human trafficking in Tulare County.
- In August of 2016, the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office dismantled a human trafficking ring, arresting 15 people for sexually exploiting 23 juveniles and 29 adults.
- The International Labour Organization estimates that there are 20.9 million victims of human trafficking globally.
- 68% of them are trapped in forced labor.
- 26% of them are children.
- 55% are women and girls.
- In 2015, an estimated 1 out of 5 endangered runaways reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children were likely child sex trafficking victims.
What does Family Services do?
Family Services offers a continuum of services for victims of both labor and sex trafficking, including comprehensive case management, crisis counseling, shelter, emergency financial assistance, criminal justice support, information and referral, ongoing mental health services, and legal advocacy. Family Services has also continued and expanded its outreach and education efforts, partnering with Child Welfare Services and the Tulare County District Attorney’s Office to provide coordinated training to law enforcement, service providers, and other groups.
What can I do?
- Learn to recognize the signs of human trafficking, and report any suspicious activity to law enforcement or the National Human Trafficking Hotline (1-888- 373-7888).
- Volunteer as a crisis counselor or life skills facilitator to victims of human trafficking.
- Donate to Family Services’ Human Trafficking program.