Did you know that the Covid-19 pandemic saw an increase in human trafficking, including child trafficking, for many reasons? While human trafficking has been complicated for decades due to technology, which often increases the ability of traffickers to prey on the most vulnerable in our society, the economic difficulties faced by families worldwide due to the pandemic further exacerbated the problem. Many children and young adults with families in need of money fell prey to trafficking schemes. Let us discuss three post-Covid tips to help recognize and prevent human trafficking.
1. Consider the Homeless. During the pandemic, many homeless shelters closed due to a fear of spreading the coronavirus. Even if shelters did not close, families formerly living there may have fled due to their fears of contracting Covid-19. Some families who left may have ended up in even less safe living situations, sharing apartments or houses with other adults who may have gained an opportunity to prey on young family members. Now that the pandemic is subsiding, many laws passed to prevent eviction due to non-payment of mortgage or rent are set to expire. A flood of evictions and homelessness may occur as a result. While the pandemic may be waning, however, this does not necessarily mean that the risk of trafficking due to homelessness will decrease. It can be important to keep an eye on children and young adults in your community experiencing homelessness to ensure they do not fall victim to trafficking schemes.
2. Keep an Eye on Technology. Remember that recruitment of human trafficking victims can happen even if the victim never leaves home. Children and young adults who have been using online tools for remote learning during the pandemic may connect to predators online. Many human trafficking schemes make use of social media, like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat, to recruit victims. Keep an eye on your kids and check in with other parents as well.
3. Be Aware When Out and About. If you are on the road to travel again, you may be in a position to recognize and prevent human trafficking. If you see children or young adults who appear to be in distress, do not leave it alone. Consider reaching out to them and ask if they are okay. Human traffickers often hide victims in plain sight, and you never know who may be in the convenience store or at an amusement park.
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