Although it sounds impossible to believe, human trafficking could be happening in your neighborhood. Human trafficking is a form of modern day slavery that occurs in every state and affects thousands of people nationwide.
PennDOT is one of the first transportation agencies in the country to train employees to recognize the signs of a potential trafficking situation and how to report to the authorities. To date, PennDOT has trained 564 driver license and welcome center employees, as well as almost 15,000 transit-agency employees in human trafficking awareness. Last year,
PennDOT took the USDOT pledge to "Put the Brakes on Human Trafficking" and became a member of the national Transportation Leaders Against Human Trafficking initiative.
The National Human Trafficking Hotline (1-888-373-7888) is a critical resource in the PennDOT training. The National Hotline serves victims and survivors nationwide with a variety of support services. They also receive tips and alert law enforcement to potential trafficking situations. According to hotline data, 199 human trafficking cases have been reported in Pennsylvania in 2018 alone. While not all the data is publicly available, here are some statistics to give you a sense of what human trafficking really looks like right now:
- 154 of those cases are sex trafficking
- 23 of those cases are labor trafficking
- 15 cases did not specify the type of trafficking
- 7 cases included both sex and labor trafficking charges
- 168 of the victims are women
- 19 are men
- 3 identify as gender minorities
- 120 victims are adults
- 54 victims are minors
The signs of a potential trafficking situation can be subtle, but if you suspect something is wrong it is always OK to call the hotline at 1-888-373-7888. It is better to call and be wrong than to ignore a situation that doesn’t seem right. Trafficking red flags include:
- Does the person know where they are?
- Can they speak for themselves?
- Do they have any form of ID?
- Do they have any visible tattoos or brands?
- Do they acknowledge a trafficker or making a quota?
Some questions to ask a potential trafficking victim:
- Do you know where you are?
- Do your parents/siblings/relatives/friends know where you are? If not, why not?
- When was the last time you saw your family?
- Do you have your own money? If not, who keeps your money?
If you decide to place a call, it is incredibly helpful to note details about the individuals involved like their age, hair color, and height, and contextual details like the make and model of a vehicle and a license plate number.
Above all, do not put yourself or others in danger. Always let law enforcement handle the situation.
So far in 2018, 562 calls regarding a potential trafficking situation have been made in Pennsylvania. The majority of those calls came from concerned community members who knew what to look for and how to respond. The more people know about what to look for, the more likely victims of trafficking will be rescued from unimaginable situations. PennDOT is committed to end human trafficking, and we have partnered with sister agencies at the local, state, and federal levels. To learn more about how to spot the signs of trafficking and how to report to the authorities, check out resources from our partners below: