Observe National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month

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January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. The month is dedicated to raising awareness about human trafficking, otherwise known as modern slavery.

The FBI has identified 14 cities with the highest incidence of sex trafficking activity in the U.S., according to officials.

Many people think a victim must cross the border for the crime to be considered trafficking, but that is not the case, officials say.

Another misconception is victims are always physically restrained, but many times the victim is detained through mental coercion. Victims fear being without food, shelter and other resources if they leave those who are trafficking them.

If you are a human trafficking victim or have information about a potential trafficking situation, call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) at 1-888-373-7888 or text 233733.

January became National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month following a Dec. 28, 2016 proclamation signed by President Barack Obama.

The proclamation read: “Our nation wrestled with the issue of slavery in a way that nearly tore us apart — its fundamental notion in direct contradiction with our founding premise that we are all created equal... But today, in too many places around the world — including right here in the United States — the injustice of modern slavery and human trafficking still tears at our social fabric.”

We urge anyone who is a victim of human trafficking or anyone who believes they may be witnessing a case of human trafficking to contact authorities for help.

According to the State Department, January was chosen because it was the same month Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing 4 million slaves on Jan. 1, 1863.

January has been a time to acknowledge those experiencing enslavement and those who have escaped. Although slavery is commonly thought to be a thing of the past, human traffickers generate hundreds of billions of dollars in profits by trapping millions of people in horrific situations around the world, including here in the U.S. Traffickers use violence, threats, deception, debt bondage, and other manipulative tactics to force people to engage in commercial sex or to provide labor or services against their will.

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