Addressing Human Trafficking on America's Campuses

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Higher Education

Human trafficking, which involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain labor or commercial sex, is a crime that isn’t often associated with institutions of higher education. However, according to the Blue Campaign, college students may be particularly vulnerable to trafficking for a variety reasons, including:

  • Living away from home, often for the first time.
  • Financial instability.
  • Lack of support networks such as strong relationships with friends, family, or other trusted adults.
  • Substance use or misuse.
  • Immigration status.

The internet remains the most frequently used means of recruitment for human trafficking, with a significant increase in online recruitment on Facebook and Instagram in 2020. However, traffickers also use physical meeting places on or near campuses, such as student unions, bars, and off-campus parties, to recruit students. 

It is important for the entire higher education community, including administrators, faculty, staff, and students, to recognize the potential risks and indicators for human trafficking. In advance of Human Trafficking Awareness Month in January, below are resources to learn about trafficking prevention and response measures, such as campus awareness campaigns, the use of student advocates, collaboration with law enforcement, and partnerships with community organizations.

American Institutes for Research

U.S. Department of Education

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