Human trafficking myths on social media versus reality

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LANSING, Mich. (WLNS)—- Human trafficking is an extensive criminal industry worldwide, and it involves recruiting, transferring, and transporting people for labor, or sexual exploitation. Although, awareness is encouraged there are several myths circulating online.  

Jane White is the executive director and founder of “The Michigan Human Trafficking Task Force.” It’s a local non-profit established through Michigan State University’s school of criminal justice. Their mission is to spread awareness; prosecute offenders, identify victims, and help provide resources to assist victims in becoming human trafficking survivors. They work with several agencies across Michigan to provide a platform to help break the silence. 

White discusses ways for people to be aware when browsing the web. 

“The attention from social media is typically on a young, adolescent, white female” White said, “and while that is certainly representative, it in no way tells the story of human trafficking.”

The largest misleading myth White wants to bring awareness to is Michigan is the second-largest state with a human trafficking rate. She states it’s impossible to determine because actual cases are not counted. 

“The issue is there is no data control of information services,” White stated, “and it doesn’t matter if you live in Florida, Ohio, or if you live in Michigan, it’s something that has to do with funding.”

White also explains there is more than one type of human trafficking. This includes sexual exploitation and labor manipulation. White states labor trafficking usually involves victims in need of a job. 

However, with both sex trafficking and labor only five percent of victims are kidnapped. White states 95 percent of victims understand and agree to the conditions they delve into. 

“A majority of trafficking sexual exploitation cases are started in families,” White exclaimed, “those who know me, neighbors and they could be male, female, young, and old.”

According to michigan.gov, men, women, and children in Michigan are forced into prostitution or other labor with little to no pay. Plus, the Michigan Attorney General has banned trafficking in the state of Michigan and continues to prosecute these crimes. 

White says to do some research before sharing the next human trafficking piece on social media. 

“One has to stop and talk to someone else and say, does that make sense, have we seen it in our town, why wouldn’t the police alert me to that?” White exclaimed.  

If you notice suspicious behavior and want to report a suspected case of human trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at  1(888) 373-7888. 

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