Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery, in which vulnerable individuals, including women, men, and children, are exploited for labor or sex through force, fraud, deception, or coercion. It is a rapidly growing criminal enterprise worldwide, and in Wisconsin, there is a rise in young people under 18 being exposed to sex trafficking. The average age of a human trafficking victim in Wisconsin is 13 years old.
Human trafficking is a serious crime that is punishable by both state and federal law. It can take many forms, such as causing or threatening to cause bodily harm, financial harm, restraining or threatening to restrain any individual, using a scheme or pattern to cause an individual to believe that any individual would suffer bodily harm, extortion, fraud or deception, debt bondage, and controlling any individual’s access to an addictive controlled substance.
It is important to educate oneself and others about the signs and myths surrounding human trafficking, as well as to be aware of the red flags that may indicate a child is at risk of being trafficked. Common misconceptions about human trafficking include that it requires an international or state border crossing, and smuggling, or that the victims must be foreign nationals or kidnapped and/or restrained physically.
Victims of human trafficking can be found in a variety of industries such as hospitality services, factory work, domestic servitude, agriculture, forestry and blessing industries, small businesses, door-to-door sales, nail salons, traveling carnivals, and commercial sex. The populations at higher risk of being trafficked include runaway and homeless youth, children within the foster care system, and those who have been previously exploited or abused.
WCH is a member of several coordinated committees to support human trafficking victims.
If you suspect someone is a victim of human trafficking, or if you would like more information on human trafficking, please ask to speak with a Human Trafficking Advocate. You can call our office at 262-656-3500 or our 24-hour hotline at 262-652-9900.