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Together we are stronger

Human trafficking: Knowing the signs can save lives

11 Sep 2017 12:02 PM | International Public Safety Association (Administrator)

By Columbia Southern University, an Official IPSA Supporter

Human trafficking is perhaps one of the most insidious crimes that targets thousands of men, women and children—young and old, rich and poor—in the U.S. and abroad. Some may think this crime only exists outside their communities, but the reality is that the U.S. deals with trafficking just as much as other nations.

Statistical reality

Human trafficking, as defined by federal law, includes sex trafficking and labor trafficking. Human trafficking of either type does not require movement, either within the U.S. or across a border. And its prevalence can be seen in these statistics:

  • In 2016, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children estimated that 1 in 6 endangered runaways reported to them were likely sex trafficking victims.
  • According to the Office of Justice Programs under the U.S. Department of Justice, 82 percent of reported human trafficking incidents in the United States between January 2008 and June 2010 involved allegations of sex trafficking: labor trafficking accounted for 11 percent of incidents; and other or unknown forms of human trafficking made up the remaining 7 percent.
  • In 2016, human trafficking in the United States rose 35.7 percent from the previous year, according to data from the National Human Trafficking Hotline, which fielded 26,727 calls in 2016. California was the No.1 state with 1,323 cases followed by Texas with 670 and Florida with 550. All three states reported an increase in trafficking crimes.

While these statistics are grim, there is hope as more private and public agencies, companies and government law enforcement offices work to combat the exploitation and slavery of individuals in the U.S.

Accepting the unfortunate reality to build awareness

One of the key weapons used to fight human trafficking is awareness. The U.S. Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons offers many tips on what citizens can do including 15 ways to fight trafficking. They also denote the indicators you should look for in someone who may be a victim of human trafficking:

  • Answers appear to be scripted and rehearsed
  • Employer is holding identity documents
  • Inability to speak to individual alone
  • Living with employer
  • Multiple people in cramped space
  • Poor living conditions
  • Signs of physical abuse
  • Submissive or fearful
  • Under 18 and in prostitution
  • Unpaid or paid very little

Educational opportunities

For those in law enforcement, social services or a related field, there are courses to help you gain more insight and awareness on human trafficking. These classes can be vital to clearing up misconceptions and lack of understanding, as well as teach students how to recognize and mitigate human trafficking.  Such training initiatives can help improve law enforcements’ ability to detect and respond to such activity.

Columbia Southern University, through a partnership with the Human Trafficking Investigations and Training Institute, offers education for law enforcement professionals to help them combat human trafficking with continuing education. The courses educate students on recognizing human trafficking issues, freeing victims and bringing traffickers to justice.

Overseeing the program is CSU professor Barry Goodson, a military veteran and former member of the CAC Investigation Task Force, which handles human trafficking cases. The three courses within the program will address human trafficking awareness, the U.S. response to trafficking and a class on law enforcement investigations of human trafficking crimes.

To learn more, visit, email or call 800-313-1992.

About Columbia Southern University

One of the nation’s pioneer online universities, Columbia Southern University was established in 1993 to provide an alternative to the traditional university experience. CSU offers online associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees such as business administration, criminal justice, fire administration and occupational safety and health. Visit or call (877) 347-6050 to learn more.

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