Written by Madison Pigford
Youth4Abolition® was created to raise awareness and educate youth on the nature and signs of human trafficking. The best tool to achieve this is through prevention education because it helps youth understand the warning signs and educate themselves and their community. Typically, when we think of trafficking, we think of a very specific age and gender demographic as being the target population. However, this idea is misguided.
According to Statistica, the breakdown of human trafficking is actually very different than the perception held by most of society that mainly women are targeted. The statistics have also changed rapidly over the years. In 2011, Women (females 18 and over) made up 49% of the victims who were trafficked. Men (males 18 and over) accounted for 17% while girls (females under the age of 18) accounted for 21% and boys (males under the age of 18) for 13%.
By 2020, the statistics had slightly changed with an increase in both men and boys who were victims of trafficking. Men accounted for 23% of all victims while boys accounted for 17% of victims. Women were 42% and girls were 18%.
These statistics are an important part of education and prevention. It is important to know that anyone can be targeted as part of trafficking. Everyone should be made aware of the signs of trafficking because anyone can be a victim. These statistics are estimates based on the information that was able to be gathered, but the actual number of victims and percentages is unknown due to the number of cases that go unreported. The increase in men and boys as victims likely increased due to increased reporting, and not an actual change in behavior from traffickers.
With the idea that anyone can be a victim in mind, it is important to understand the signs that make you more vulnerable to trafficking. This is not to say that if you have none of these you are not at risk, but you are at an increased risk if you:
Have previously experienced other forms of violence such as sexual abuse or domestic violence.
Have run away or are involved in the juvenile justice or child welfare system.
Are undocumented immigrants.
Are facing poverty or economic need/ Have an unstable living situation.
Have a caregiver or family member who has a substance use issue.
Are addicted to drugs or alcohol.
If you or anyone you know is a victim of trafficking, please contact the 24-hour helpline at 888-373-7888.
We at Y4A work to educate youth on trafficking statistics and warning signs, so they are the most equipped to protect themselves. We also work to promote prevention to help stop human trafficking.