Staff Writer, DB HolmesGovernment / News
The increasing problem of human trafficking around the globe is examined by Deborah Sigmund – president and founder of the nonprofit child advocacy organization Innocents at Risk.
Sigmund says the main goal of her organization is to educate the public – and particularly people in America – about the widespread problem of human trafficking, and provide avenues for them to join the fight against it.
“There are over 27 million women, children and men who are in slavery today. Each year, over 18,000 foreign nationals are trafficked within the United States.”
She adds that within the U.S. borders, there are 200,000 children who end up in the sex trade each year, in what is now “the fastest growing criminal industry in the world” – second only to drug trafficking.
“The average age of a child who is trafficked is 12 – but they certainly take younger ones as well, and that’s what’s so terribly heartbreaking.”
Sigmund addresses the issue that the problem of human trafficking is typically viewed by Americans as being a issue in other countries, rather than right at home.
“It certainly happens here… and these are not just runaway children. Girls are lured online, and girls from good families – they can be kidnapped from a mall, it is just horrendous.
She brings up the Liam Neeson movie Taken – which is based on a true story – that was very instrumental in educating the public that human trafficking was a reality that could happen to anyone.
Sigmund said the profiles of children who end up falling victim to the sex trade are varied, although many escape lives spent in the U.S. welfare system, or troubled family situations at home.
“There are systems out there and there are people who can help,” she said about the resources that her organization helps to promote.
The hotline for the National Human Trafficking Resource Center – where people should call to report suspicious activities and behavior that might indicate that an individual is being held against their will and possibly a victim of human trafficking – 1-888-373-7888.