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In the United States, human slavery is often regarded as something from our past. Unfortunately, slavery in the U.S. is still thriving. Now that slavery is illegal, it survives underground. The secretive nature of modern slavery makes it difficult to know exactly how many are living in slavery in the U.S., but it is estimated that the number is in the hundreds of thousands. Human trafficking worldwide is estimated to be a $150 billion industry.

The terms modern slavery, human trafficking, and “trafficking in persons” are all used to refer to modern-day slavery. Modern slavery includes victims of sex trafficking as well as forced labor. Trafficking does not necessarily involve moving people from one place to another. Some victims of trafficking are moved from one place to another, while others are “trafficked” in the place where they live. Many victims of human trafficking in the United States are Americans themselves.

Where is the problem?

The United States was ranked as one of the worst countries for human trafficking in 2018. The three states with the most cases of human trafficking are California, New York, and Texas. Florida and Las Vegas, Nevada are also problem areas. There have been reports of trafficking in all fifty states, however, so the problem isn’t in one place but everywhere. 

Here’s another staggering fact: The national hotline in charge of taking human trafficking-related calls averages 150 calls every day.

So why is it that many of us consider slavery to be a thing of the past? 

The crisis of modern slavery is massive, and yet the subject doesn’t get the attention it deserves. No one wants to believe that there are slaves, especially child slaves, living among us. Ignoring the facts, however, does not help anyone.

How can we help?

If we are to make any positive changes regarding human trafficking, we have to accept the scope of the problem. We can’t ignore it and hope that it goes away. We should all also take the time to recognize the signs of trafficking. You should also call the National Human Trafficking Hotline line at 1-888-373-7888 whenever you suspect that trafficking is occurring. 

Other ways that you can help include volunteering for anti-trafficking charities, being a conscientious consumer (don’t buy products that may have been made by slaves), and writing to leaders in the government to let them know that this subject needs our collective attention.