Human Trafficking in Idaho

Human Trafficking is Local

The forceable exploitation of men, women, and children across the world has been happening for centuries and although it has taken on different forms in these modern decades, it is still prevalent. Human slavery is taking place across every state in the nation, and yes, it is even happening in Idaho. The trucking industry can play a big part in bringing awareness to the issue and working to address the actions necessary to stop it. This blog is meant to present statistics to bring awareness as well as ways to get involved.

The biggest issue lies in the lack of awareness and or action. Cases are not reported and the ones that are reported are not recorded so, they go un-noticed and un-address. The good news is that it is changing.

The most surprising statistic in Idaho from the Dept. of Health & Human Services is that from December 2012-2016, 38 adults were trafficked compared to the nine minors reported in the 49 cases. In 2018, the Human Trafficking Hotline reports there were eight human trafficking cases reported and 31 calls from people in the state. The hotline's numbers for 2018 come in fewer than the 13 cases reported in 2017. Although it may seem like a small amount, the numbers from states add up, as nationally 5,147 human trafficking cases were reported in 2018. — Ellyn Felton for KEZJ radio

Programs are being developed both federally and locally. This month, The United States Department of Homeland Security, a cabinet department of the U.S. federal government with responsibilities in public security, released a campaign to build a conversation and awareness around the crisis that is growing at epidemic speed. They reiterate that because human trafficking is a hidden crime, we may not recognize the signs. The campaign is made through several social media channels in hopes of building momentum. It is a huge effort in addressing the problem and will continue on even as January closes.

An organization called Do Something has outlined 11 Facts about human trafficking that everyone, especially those of you in the trucking industry, should understand. Click on the link to see the full list with details. It is eye-opening to say the least.

  1. Trafficking involves transporting someone into a situation of exploitation. This can include forced labor, marriage, prostitution, and organ removal. This kind of exploitation is known by a few different names -- “human trafficking,” “trafficking of persons,” and “modern slavery” are the ones accepted by the US Department of State.
  2. It’s estimated that internationally there are between 20 million and 40 million people in modern slavery today. Assessing the full scope of human trafficking is difficult because so cases so often go undetected, something the United Nations refers to as “the hidden figure of crime.”
  3. Estimates suggest that, internationally, only about .04% survivors of human trafficking cases are identified, meaning that the vast majority of cases of human trafficking go undetected.
  4. Human trafficking earns global profits of roughly $150 billion a year for traffickers, $99 billion of which comes from commercial sexual exploitation.
  5. Globally, an estimated 71% of enslaved people are women and girls, while men and boys account for 29%.
  6. Estimates suggest that about 50,000 people are trafficked into the US each year, most often from Mexico and the Philippines.
  7. In 2018, over half (51.6%) of the criminal human trafficking cases active in the US were sex trafficking cases involving only children.
  8. Reports indicate that a large number of child sex trafficking survivors in the US were at one time in the foster care system.
  9. Advocates report a growing trend of traffickers using online social media platforms to recruit and advertise targets of human trafficking.
  10. The average age a teen enters the sex trade in the US is 12 to 14 years old. Many victims are runaway girls who were sexually abused as children.
  11. In 2018, The National Human Trafficking Hotline received more calls from California than any other state in the US, followed by Texas and Florida, respectively.

What Human Trafficking Looks Like in Idaho

On a local level, these 11 tips can help, especially since most victims don’t self-identify.

Jennifer Zielinski, executive director of the Idaho Anti-Trafficking Coalition, and Paula Barthelmess, a trauma counselor in the Treasure Valley have been working as part of the Idaho Anti-Trafficking Coalition crisis team. Their work has shed light on some astonishing statistics here in Idaho. In an article recently published in the Idaho Press Tribune by Tommy Simmons, Barthelmess said that the majority of victims she has worked with are Idaho natives and they are not coming into or leaving the state. Most of the movement is local, taking place at hotels and motels.

“You will see it happen,” Barthelmess said. “It’s in every single hotel in our Treasure Valley.”

Because of the rising statistics and a broader awareness, several organizations have stepped up to help in remarkable way that haven proven successes. Polaris is one of those organizations. They operate the National Human Trafficking Hotline which provides survivors of human trafficking support and options to get help and stay safe. The Hotline (1.888.373.7888) can connect callers to emergency support systems like emergency shelters, transportation, trauma counselors, local law enforcement and others.

The National Hotline has handled 51,919 cases since 2007, comprising one of the largest publicly available data sets on human trafficking in the United States. These aggregated, anonymized data help illuminate otherwise hidden trends, risk factors, methods of control, and other variables that allow this crime to manifest across the country. With these tools, we can better respond to and prevent human trafficking. — Polaris

In addition to supporting victims and survivors through the Hotline, Polaris has committed to building a dataset that shows how human trafficking works, in real-time as well as translating knowledge into strategies to disrupt and prevent human trafficking.

On a local level, here in Idaho, there are also organizations working toward those same goals. In fact, in the last year, Idaho began shedding light on the national issue with plans to open its first safe house for trafficking victims in Boise. The Solace House will provide a therapeutic setting for victims to receive emergency shelter and residential care, as well as medical and rehabilitation services. It will also serve as a long-term safe house for children who are victims of sex trafficking. The Idaho National Human Trafficking Hotline also works closely with service providers, law enforcement, and other professionals in Idaho to serve victims and survivors of trafficking, respond to human trafficking cases, and share information and resources.

The real change will come with legislation but that is a long and tedious road. For now, it just takes one person to recognize a potential victim and possibly save a life. So, be part of the conversation.

How Can You Help?

With 25 million people trafficked world-wide, it will take everyone to make change. Polaris has committed to making that change and is organized globally but able to act locally through targeted campaigns and crises. These are some suggestions.

Take Action: You can contact your elected representatives about supporting important legislation to combat the crime and help survivors. You can learn more about how human trafficking really works and help educate others. And you can volunteer in your community to fight not just trafficking but the factors that lead to trafficking – including poverty, addiction and hopelessness.

Fundraise: You can raise money to fight human trafficking! Create a fundraiser to celebrate your birthday, for your special event, or just because you want to help light the path to freedom for survivors now. View the options below for different ways to fundraise.

Partner: Human trafficking is a $150 billion global industry that robs 25 million people around the world of their freedom. Government alone can’t end this. Neither can non -profit advocates. It will take all of us – business, law enforcement, government and community – to change the systems, the laws, the biases, and the underlying social structures that together make human trafficking possible and profitable. Together with our partners from all these sectors, we are reimagining a comprehensive, global and targeted response to human trafficking based in our shared commitment to ensuring every human being has a chance to live in freedom and with dignity.

Donate Donate Donate Most Importantly, Be Aware and Share!

To report a tip: call 1-866-347-2423, text HELP or INFO to BeFree - 233733, or chat online. To connect with services and support for human trafficking victims or survivors: contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline: 1-888-373-7888

For more information, visit the Blue Campaign

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