It’s that time of year again, the NCAA basketball tournaments are under way and brackets are being destroyed by the hour. Major cities across America are flooding with excited college students, fans and sex traffickers.
Didn’t see that one coming? Research shows significant spikes in sex trafficking surrounding major sporting events.
Following Super Bowl 50 in 2016, a flight attendant’s ability to recognize the signs of human trafficking saved a young girl’s life. Now, more and more companies are equipping their workers with the knowledge and tools that will hopefully put a major stint in the business of trafficking people.
As March Madness takes over major cities in the U.S., and our TV screens for the next three weeks, local Human Trafficking Task Forces are encouraging hotel staff and others in these area to be on high alert for any red flags. A recent 15-month study by the University of Louisville discovered that online advertisements for sex-trafficked girls actually tripled during the March Madness games.
Red flags include young girls who appear to be hanging around hotels, accompanied by older men, often wearing provocative clothing, or seemingly dirty/worn out clothing. Many advocates say that another thing to look out for is young girls who won’t speak for themselves.
“These girls are not walking the streets like one would imagine a general prostitute to do. These girls are controlled by an individual who places them in certain locations, sets up this ad on certain websites,” explains Mike Ferjak, a Senior Criminal Investigator with the Iowa Department of Justice.
According to a report by LocalSYR.com, over half of the trafficked victims are as young as 12 years old.
Of course, while the majority of modern slaves are young women, there’s always a possibility that young males are being trafficked as well. Similar red flags should be noted.
We all have a duty to care for our brothers and sisters—especially those who have no voice of their own.
It is estimated that a nearly 700,000 people are trafficked every year. It’s one of our nation’s best kept secrets. At a time when the entire country is turning their eyes to one major event, let’s not forget what’s actually going on outside of the arenas.
Please share this important message to help raise awareness. WE have the power to shine a light on modern-day slavery.