Human Trafficking Awareness Day: The Signs and the Resources Available

January is Human Trafficking Prevention Month.

Human trafficking is defined as “the unlawful act of transporting or coercing people in order to benefit from their work or service, typically in the form of forced labor or sexual exploitation.”

Human trafficking takes place all across the United States, including right here in Wisconsin.

According to a WAOW report, human trafficking cases across the country went down in 2020, but went up in Wisconsin. Six cases of human trafficking went to court in the state that year. Five of those cases were for sex trafficking, while the other was for forced labor.

There is a National Human Trafficking Hotline set up where people can report human trafficking cases or seek resources.

In 2021, 390 signals were received by the Hotline from Wisconsin. Signals can come in the form of calls, web chats, texts or emails. 111 of those were from victims or survivors of human trafficking.

At Wellpoint Care Network, it is vital for staff to know the signs of human trafficking.

“In Child Welfare, our kids are vulnerable to sex traffickers,” said Karen Wille, Wellpoint Child Welfare Supervisor and Sex Trafficking & Exploitation Resource. “Staff share with us that girls come back with new clothing, nails done, cash, etc. that they cannot explain. Or they return to us scared, having suffered trauma that impacts them physically, mentally and emotionally.”

She adds, “Trafficking occurs with children, youth and even adults.  It is impacting all genders; however, we most often work with female youth who have connections to sex trafficking”

There are organizations in Milwaukee that support minors, adults, and caregivers impacted by sex trafficking, including UMOS Latina Resource Center, Pathfinders New Paths Program, and Milwaukee Center for Children and Youth.

National Human Trafficking Awareness Day is recognized each year on January 11. In recognition of the day, all are encouraged to wear blue and post a picture of themselves on social media.