"Modern Day Slavery" is Close to Home

Alyssa Barnes

“Modern Day Slavery” Is Close to Home

Fear has swept through the minds of parents, family members, and most teens with regards to human trafficking, also known as “modern day slavery”. Always seeming to be something going on in other countries, a lot of Missouri citizens have been surprised to see that this complication is hitting much closer to home than they thought.
Due to the highway systems in MO (Interstates 70 and 44), St. Louis is one of the top spots for trafficking to occur. It is important for citizens of all ages to be informed on what trafficking is and how to combat it, both for the safety of themselves and to protect others.
Sex trafficking is the most discussed form of trafficking in this day in age. Young girls are the biggest targets, but young boys are also victims of this crime. It is said that many teens enter the sex trade at 12-14 years of age. The Polaris Project provides a list of signs that a person may be a victim to sex trafficking. Examples of this are (but are not limited to): “Is fearful, anxious, depressed, submissive, tense, or nervous/paranoid”, may be fearful or anxious when discussing law enforcement, avoids eye contact, is not able to speak for his or herself, or has an inconsistent memory of his or her story.
Although sex trafficking is most discussed today, it is actually the second leading form of trafficking at 21.5%. The leading form is forced labor exploitation at 67.9%… “Forced or compulsory labor is all work or service which is exacted from any person under the threat of a penalty and for which the person has not offered himself or herself voluntarily.” (International Labor Organization Forced Labor Convention, 1930 (No. 29).)  Signs of this are (but are not limited to): “Is not free to leave or come and go as he/she wishes”, “Is unpaid, paid very little, or paid only through tips”, is not allowed to take breaks from working, or “High security measures exist in the work and/or living locations (e.g. opaque windows, boarded up windows, bars on windows, barbed wire, security cameras, etc.)”.
One way that people can learn to protect themselves from human trafficking is to educate themselves using trusted sources. A website called YouthVillage.co provides a list of 10 ways to protect yourself from human trafficking of all sorts. With each way listed, there is a short paragraph that goes deeper into what they mean.
If you suspect any form of trafficking going on with someone else or yourself, call the Human Trafficking Hotline (US) at 1 (888) 373-7888.
Cites Used
11 Facts About Human Trafficking
Polaris Project
Forced Labor
Ways to Protect Yourself
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