January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month and National Mentoring Month.

January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, as well as National Mentoring Month. The Advocates for Victims of Abuse- Sixth Judicial District Court Appointed Special Advocates has teamed up with the National Human Trafficking Resource Center’s Polaris Project and Girls Educating and Mentoring Services (GEMS), to help raise awareness about this serious problem that still exists in the United States and around the globe.

Human trafficking is a serious federal crime with penalties of up to imprisonment for life. Cases of human trafficking have been reported in all 50 states, Washington D.C., and some U.S. territories (USDE). Victims of human trafficking can be children or adults, U.S. citizens or foreign nationals, male or female.

According to U.S. government, they estimate thousands of men, women, and children are trafficked to the United States for the purposes of sexual and labor exploitation. An unknown number of U.S. citizens and legal residents are trafficked within the country primarily for sexual servitude and, to a lesser extent, forced labor.

Human trafficking often targets youths. 100,000 – 300,000 children are at risk for commercial sexual exploitation each year in the United States According to the U.S. Department of Justice, 75% of minors involved in prostitution are controlled by pimps through violence and psychological abuse, which leads to lesser reporting out of fear. Just this year, the DOJ’s statistic states that the average age of entry into prostitution is merely 12-14 years old. These statistics narrow even further, as Shared Hope International reports 1,496 children were trafficked from 40 states into Las Vegas’ Clark County between 1994 and 2007. 70-90% of commercially sexually exploited children have a history of child sexual abuse. Keep in mind, these are only the reported trafficking crimes.

Commercial exploitation of children is sexual activity involving a child in exchange for something of value, or promise thereof, to the child or another person or persons. The child is treated as a commercial and sexual object. CSEC is a form of violence against children. It’s estimated 1.6 million children run away from home each year in the US. The average time it takes before a runaway is approached by a trafficker or solicitor is 48 hours (National Runaway Switchboard).

If you or someone you know may be a victim of human trafficking, the NHTRC provides a free, 24/7, confidential hotline at 1-888-373-7888.

For more information or to volunteer to be an advocate, please contact the Advocates for Victims of Abuse at humboldtava@sbcglobal.net, or 304-7007 or 623-2328.

For more information, please visit these websites:

National Human Trafficking Resource Center: http://www.polarisproject.org

Girls Educating and Mentoring Services: http://www.gems-girls.org

Advocates for Victims of Abuse- Sixth Judicial District Court Appointed Special Advocates: http://www.humboldtava.com