January is dedicated to awareness and prevention of human trafficking. Human trafficking is an incredibly common experience and happens both in the US and abroad. Traffickers can be family members, intimate partners, employers, or strangers. The common theme is that they use force, threat, manipulation, and coercion to make their victims sell sex or labor for the benefit of the trafficker.
It’s little known that human trafficking is a crime that is especially common in states and communities like ours. Pennsylvania, and especially Lebanon and Schuylkill Counties, are home to many interstate highway systems. These roads easily connect major cities, making it easier for traffickers to transport their victims.
Young people, especially those struggling with stable housing, and those who are rejected because of sexual orientation or gender identity, are more likely to be trafficked. It’s all too common for youth who have been abused in their homes to run away. They do this to seek safety. Sadly, some adults use this vulnerability to force these minors into sex trafficking.
So what can you do about trafficking? Educate yourself on the signs. Does the person seem disconnected from friends and family? Have you noticed that they seem coached about what to
say, or fearful of their partner or family members? Are there sudden changes in behavior, like missing school or withdrawing from normal activities? Is a minor you know involved in selling
If you are concerned about human trafficking, know that you can make a report. Contact the national Human Trafficking helpline. You can also call SARCC at any time. We have a 24/7 support line and counselors who can help. If you see something that’s not quite right, say something. Your voice can make a difference in our community.