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Human Trafficking Cases Jump by 25% in 2018

As we mark another World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, it is important to note that in reality, every day is a day in which we must focus and fight this growing, worldwide phenomenon. That is why Polaris operates the U.S. National Human Trafficking Hotline 24 hours a day, seven days a week, every single day of the year. The National Hotline provides survivors of human trafficking with vital support and a variety of options to get help and stay safe whenever they need it. These could include connecting callers with emergency shelters, transportation, trauma counselors, local law enforcement or a range of other services and supports.

Today, we also launched a summary of our 2018 Hotline Statistics. Since 2007, the National Hotline has identified more than 51,919 cases of human trafficking. These cases comprise one of the largest available data sets on human trafficking in the country—data that can help us pinpoint the most effective ways to disrupt human trafficking and ensure that survivors can access the best possible services.

What does the data say?

Cases of likely human trafficking reported to the National Hotline jumped by 25 percent in 2018 over the previous year. The total figure represents the most cases ever reported via the Hotline since Polaris began operating it more than a decade ago. In total, 10,949 cases of human trafficking were reported in 2018, including 7,859 sex trafficking cases and 1,249 labor trafficking cases.

Of those calls, more than ever are coming directly from survivors. In 2018, 3,218 individual survivors reached out the National Hotline, compared to 2,374 survivors in 2017. The National Hotline made 9,574 referrals, which include connecting survivors to services ranging from emergency housing and transportation needs to accessing legal or counseling support.

Cases of labor trafficking decreased by 2 percent, indicating that the current climate of fear in immigrant and minority communities is likely suppressing reports to the National Hotline. Globally, as well as in the United States, experts believe labor trafficking is far more widespread than sex trafficking. Yet, the cases reported to the National Hotline rarely reflect that. A total of 1,249 cases of labor trafficking were reported in 2018, compared to 1,276 in 2017.

This World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, as human trafficking reports are on the rise but labor trafficking cases continue to be underreported, it is imperative to remember that human trafficking comes in all forms, not just sex trafficking. It is time to shift the narrative and help connect survivors of the 25 types of human trafficking to services and support.

How can you help?

  1. Share our 2018 statistics infographics on your social media channels to increase awareness.

  2. Check out state-by-state statistics to learn more about sex and labor trafficking in your state.

  3. Pledge to actively make a difference in the lives of human trafficking survivors.

  4. Donate to help disrupt human trafficking networks that rob people of their freedom.

People can be connected to help or report a tip of suspected human trafficking by calling the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888, texting “BeFree” (233733), or chatting.

*Note: Polaris emphasizes that the data released are not intended to represent the full scope of human trafficking, but rather the incoming communications received only through the National Human Trafficking Hotline. Breakdowns of case data available online are non-cumulative because cases may involve multiple survivors, and callers do not always provide specific demographic information.

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Need help? Polaris operates the U.S. National Human Trafficking Hotline.