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Running Head: Human Trafficking 1

Human Trafficking in the United States

Tammy Heringer

Saint Leo University


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According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline there have been 13,897 calls and

4460 human trafficking cases reported thus far in 2017. The Hotline reports that for the state of

Florida there have been 878 calls and 329 human trafficking cases reported this year. Human

trafficking is a global issue that is also very prevalent in America. The victims of human

trafficking typically come from homes where they have been abused or neglected. Attachment

theory helps to explain why children from these types of homes are more vulnerable than

children in homes that are nurturing and affectionate. There have been many laws regarding

trafficking, the earliest of which dates back to 1910. In recent years the laws have been modified

multiple times and each time it helps to serve victims. While trafficking is a federal crime, it is

essential that local law enforcement is able to identify trafficking victims, and to recognize that

trafficking victims are not willing participants and should not be charged as prostitutes.

The Victims of Domestic Trafficking

According to Kaplan & Kemp (2015) there are between 150,000 and 300,000 estimated

US children at risk for commercial sex trafficking each year. The victims of trafficking are

children and teens that have come from homes where they have been abused or neglected. They

also come from homes that have abandoned them. These children and teens typically find

themselves in situations where they are forced to begin prostituting and they easily become

targets to traffickers (Territo & Glover, 2013). Kaplan & Kemp (2015) state that the average age

that children are trafficked is 13. Children and teens that are trafficked are often lured by

promises of love, acceptance, gifts, and attention. These promises fall short, and they are things

that were typically missing in their family unit.

There are multiple warning signs that a child is in a trafficking situation. They may be

runaways, they may have cash that the child is unwilling to explain, the child may have new
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tattoos that they are hesitant to talk about, as well as gifts that they will not explain the origin of.

Another warning sign is the use and abuse of alcohol and drugs, as well as being in an abusive

relationship with an older person, or travelling with a much older person that is not a caregiver

(Kaplan & Kemp 2015).

Attachment Theory is essential in understanding why victims of trafficking would fall

prey to traffickers. Attachment theory states that the earliest parts of relationship with parents

must be considered when it comes to evaluating children. Children that grow up in homes where

the parent is nurturing, meets their needs, are attentive, sensitive, and accepting are said to be

securely attached children. Securely attached children have an attachment with their caregivers

and are able to focus energy on activities other than building attachment. Anxious ambivalently

attached children have parents that are not outright refusing to care for them, but they are

unreliable. The child gets very upset when the parents leave, and are still upset after their return.

The child that has an anxious-ambivalent attachment fears abandonment and is alert for a

perceived threat and rejection. Avoidantly attached children are not bothered if the parent leaves

the room. These children still want to be close to their parents, but if the parent rejects them this

attachment style allows them to refrain from showing that they are upset. Eventually this child

gives up on trying to stay close to caregivers. Children with disorganised attachment have

behaviors that are opposite of each other. They will both attempt to approach and avoid their

parents. They are unable to be the same in their attempts to bond with their parents. They are

attempting to find safety in parents that are make them afraid. Because of this the child ends up

not being comforted, and will often have added stress because of how their caregiver responds

(Hutchison, 2017).
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Children that have parents that are nurturing and attentive are less likely to have the risk

factors that traffickers look for. They have strong bonds with their family and community.

Community is based on mutual trust and belonging. Attachment theory suggests that these bonds

need to be established at the earliest development. The bonds made in infancy are the building

blocks that are used for relationships throughout a persons lifetime (Taylor, 2012). Having

healthy attachments develop early on leads healthy attachments as an adult and doing so enables

the individual to be in community with others throughout their lifetime. Community fosters

involvement with other people and belonging. Community can help care providers by being a

family of choice for victims of trafficking that do not have a supportive family of origin. It can

help to build bonds that were not built in early childhood and infancy.

The History of Trafficking Legislation

Territo & Glover (2013) state that The Mann Act was passed in June of 1910 and is one

the oldest laws in the United States about human sex trafficking. The Mann Act states that it is

illegal to transport people across state lines for criminal sex acts and prostitution. There are some

key things to note about The Mann Act, as Territo & Glover, (2013) point out. First, that it is

solely the transporting of the individual across state lines that is violating The Mann Act, not that

the individual has committed an illegal sex act. The focus is on the intent. Second, the sex act

does not have to be for prostitution. Taking a minor across state lines for the purpose of sex is

also a violation of The Mann Act (Territo & Glover, 2013). The Mann Act also is used to bring

charges against people that have gone to another country for sex tourism. Sex tourism is where

someone from a country where sex with minors is illegal, such as the United States, goes to

another county to do that act. According to The Mann Act, it does not matter if it is legal or

illegal in the foreign country to have sex with minors. Another detail that The Mann Act covers
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is that if someone is keeping an illegal alien against their will for prostitution or other immoral

purposes. The Mann Act states that anyone that is holding undocumented people needs to file a

report with the Commissioner of Immigration stating the undocumented persons name, where

they are being held, and all information about how the person entered the US. Failure to do so is

prosecutable by up to 10 years in prison. (Territo & Glover, 2013). The Mann Act was the first

law regarding trafficking. In that time, there were not many laws regarding children. The fact

that The Mann Act outlaws transporting a minor with for the intent of sex shows that even as

early as 1910 lawmakers recognized the dignity and worth of a person. This was a time when

children did not have much legal protection and were not regarded as highly as they are now.

The Travel Act was passed in 1952. The Travel Act made operating a prostitution

business a federal crime. The Travel Act is similar to The Mann Act because it does not require

that the prostitution be under coercion, but it does state that prostitution has to be conducted,

where The Mann Act states that it is the intent to prostitute. The language in Travel Act states

that the use of any facility in interstate or foreign commerce to conduct the prostitution

business forbidden. This includes the internet and phones. Because of this verbiage, the person

does not have to be transported (Territo & Glover, 2013).

Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 made trafficking humans a federal crime, it

also made resources available to oppose trafficking, and put things in place to protect the victims

involved in trafficking. There are some key points that The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of

2000 established. It states that the Secretary of State is to publish a yearly report Trafficking in

Persons report by June 1st. It established an Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat

Trafficking, which is run by the Secretary of State, this task force is inside of the Department of

State. It has established ways to educate the public and potential victims of trafficking about how
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dangerous trafficking is, how potential victims are protected, and it allows the government to

work with agencies that are not a part of the government to help fight human trafficking. It gives

protection and help to victims of trafficking in the United States. The Trafficking Victims

Protection Act of 2000 also changed the federal criminal code to make profits from the sale of

assets that were seized from traffickers to be put into programs for victim assistance (Territo &

Glover, 2013). Taking assets that have been seized from traffickers and using it to fund victim

assistance is a form of social justice. It is appropriate that the money that was earned by victims

while they were in a trafficking situation is used to help them to get help and recover from what

was done to them.

Congress amended the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 in 2003. It was

amended to the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2003. This new

amendment added in the ability for victims to take their traffickers to civil court. It also added

funds for programs to combat trafficking in 2004 and 2005 (Territo & Glover, 2013). Victims

having the ability to take their traffickers to civil court as well as criminal demonstrates social

justice. Having the ability to take the person that trafficked you to civil court and is positive

change and can give the victim closure. Traffickers need to be punished to the fullest extent of

the law.

In 2005 another Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act got passed. It gave

the United States courts authority over government employees that participated in trafficking in

foreign countries. It expanded services and gave grants to local law enforcement to help with anti

trafficking programs. It also expanded victim aid to people who were not only citizens of the

United States, but also to people who are considered resident aliens. The Trafficking Victims

Protection Reauthorization Act of 2005 also tried to help Americans that were trafficked
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domestically, as well as victims that are children and their needs. It also broadened the United

States jurisdiction to cover people that are working overseas for the government. This includes

peacekeepers and aid workers that are involved in some way in trafficking (Territo & Glover,

2013). Integrity is important when working with individuals. It is how trust is built in

professional relationships. The Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2005

recognizes the value of integrity when it comes to government employees working overseas.

The William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008

(TVPRA), made new provisions to aid domestic trafficking victims, and new measures, such as

making it unnecessary for prosecutors to prove the trafficker knew the victim was a minor and

requiring them to instead, demonstrate that the accused had reasonable opportunity to observe

the victim (Territo & Glover, 2013). The TVPRA makes all forms of pimping illegal (Territo &

Glover, 2013). By making all types of pimping illegal, TVPRA is showing that every person has

dignity and worth.

Local Law Enforcement and Trafficking

One of the challenges that comes up with law enforcement and trafficking victims is that

they typically are involved in a crime, such as prostitution. Police often lack the special training

they need order to identify which of victims are offenders, and which are being trafficked and

forced or coerced into prostitution. When trafficking victims are first booked by police they are

typically viewed as offenders, not victims. Local law enforcement has traditionally viewed

victims of sex trafficking as a willing participant in their victimization, and they are typically

charged with prostitution instead of being helped. Because of this false view, local law

enforcement has been hesitant to offer help to victims of sex trafficking (Territo & Glover,

2013). It has also made it difficult for victims to get help while they are in the trafficking
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situation. If police are routinely arresting a trafficking victim for prostitution this makes it even

more difficult for a victim to trust law enforcement for help.

There has been some progress in the training of local officers. Local law enforcement

agencies across the nation have started to send their officers to training seminars and conferences

led by experienced federal, state, and local officers. This is to help local law enforcement to

pinpoint trafficking that is concealed by other crimes. They also learn about how to do sex

trafficking investigations. Some states have incorporated specific training about sex trafficking

into their academies (Territo & Glover, 2013). Local law enforcement is starting to build their

competency when it comes to identifying trafficking situations.

Rehabilitation of Victims

There are only a handful of cities that offer shelters for victims of sex trafficking.

Intervention for victims needs to happen early (Kaplan & Kemp, 2015). Kaplan & Kemp (2015)

suggest that strengths based approach is the best for a victim of trafficking. This approach factors

in the person in environment.

The Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council (2014) state that Trauma

Informed Care is effective in cases of survivors of child sexual abuse and in cases of complex

and severe trauma. Trauma Informed Care helps victims to form healthy bonds in a planned

psychosocial environment through attachment-informed reparenting (Taylor, 2012 p. 102).

Another method of treatment for victims of trafficking are Survivor-Led and Survivor-

Informed models of care. Leadership by survivors of trafficking was helpful in the improvement

and healing of people that were in those groups (Institute of Medicine & National Research

Council, 2014).
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The Institute of Medicine and The National Research Council (2014) states that there are

some challenges to providing services to victims of trafficking. There are not many options

available for housing for victims of trafficking. There are not many services for boys that have

been trafficked. Providers may have not been educated about the prevalence of trafficking or

know what signs to look for that someone in their care is being trafficked or is at risk of being

trafficked. There are problems with a lack of the ability to communicate between providers.

Another problem is that the providers that work with victims get easily burnt out and have

problems with secondary stress. Also, not having a standard method for helping victims of

trafficking means that victims are still suffering after they have been rescued from trafficking

(Institute of Medicine & National Research Council, 2014).

Providers need to show competency when it comes to dealing with victims of trafficking.

They need to be educated about the special needs that trafficking victims have when it comes to

authority figures and people in positions of power. Providers also need to be trained in trauma

informed care in order to not retraumatize victims of trafficking.

Human trafficking is an issue that is prevalent in our county. Attachment theory shows

how victims are at a higher risk of being trafficked. It also illustrates how risk factors are higher

in children with dysfunctional attachment styles. There has been a huge improvement of

legislation of policy regarding trafficking since the initial law about human trafficking was

passed in the United States in 1910. Each time these laws have been passed, amended and

reauthorized it has increased social justice and service to victims. Local law enforcement is at the

front lines of the fight against traffickers and it is vital that they get the training they need in

order to understand that victims are not willingly participating in prostitution. Trauma informed

care is an effective way to rehabilitate victims of trafficking. They have gone through a traumatic
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experience and they need specialized care from competent professionals in order to recover from

what has happened to them.


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References

Hutchison, Elizabeth D. (2017) Chapter 4: The Psychological Person. Essentials of Human

Behavior: Integrating Person, Environment, and the Life Course. (pp 105-106). SAGE

Publications, Inc., 2017.

Institute of Medicine (U.S.),, & National Research Council (U.S.),. (2014). Confronting

commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors in the United States: A

guide for providers of victim and support services.

Kaplan, D., & Kemp, K. (July 01, 2015). Domestic minor sex trafficking: An emerging health

crisis. The Brown University Child and Adolescent Behavior Letter, 31, 7, 1-6.

Taylor, C. (2012). Empathic care for children with disorganized attachments: A model for

mentalizing, attachment and trauma-informed care. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Territo, L., & Glover, N. (2014). Criminal investigation of sex trafficking in America.

Hotline Statistics. National Human Trafficking Hotline, humantraffickinghotline.org/states.

Retrieved 11/15/2017

Wilson, M., & OBrien, E. (March 01, 2016). Constructing the ideal victim in the United States

of Americas annual trafficking in persons reports. Crime, Law and Social Change : an

Interdisciplinary Journal, 65, (pp 29-45).