Human trafficking: Maryland’s epidemic

A campaign book telling facts about all different types of human trafficking.

Courtesy of Creative Commons

A campaign book telling facts about all different types of human trafficking.

Kaitlyn Mourlas, Editor-in-Chief

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Human trafficking is a form of modern slavery that occurs in every state, but it is closer to the Eastern Shore than many people realize. The term human trafficking covers several branches such as, sex trafficking and labor trafficking.  

The state of Maryland’s Department of Human Service Agency is taking steps to identify alleged victims who have been affected by human trafficking and giving them the resources to get support. 

 The agency states, “Recent estimates indicate that anywhere from 5,000 to 21,000 youths are trafficked in the United States each year.” Just a few hours away in Baltimore, the industry of sex trafficking is booming, and it is becoming very difficult to stop. 

Sex trafficking is when a person is forcefully involved in commercial sex acts. WJZ CBS News met with Jeanne Allert, the founder of The Samaritan Women’s shelter. She saw the growing need to aid victims of sex trafficking and took the initiative to help them.  

Teen girls that are exploited in the U.S. will “bring in about a quarter of a million dollars a year…that money is also tax-free because it’s illegal funds. A trafficker of four girls, he’s making a million dollars a year,” stated Allert. 

This enormous underground operation is hiding in plain sight in certain locations and driven by frequently such as, motels along I-95, I-395, Route 1 and Route 40.  

Although it can happen to anyone, there are certain safety steps to lower the chances at becoming a victim of sex trafficking. One of the most crucial steps is to always be aware of the surrounding area. When walking in a parking lot, down the street, or anywhere else that is open to the public, do not be distracted by a cell phone. If there is something suspicious make sure to walk away and alert the police.  

Another way to avoid trouble is by always staying in groups. Many cases of sex trafficking have begun with people being abducted while walking alone. This does not mean that anytime a person walks alone he/she is in danger, but it is important to be aware of what is going on around the area. If something seems off, acting swiftly is key. Run to the car and lock the doors or go into the closest building to get away. 

 Senior Sydney Boger stated that, “Depending on where I am, I lock the doors right when I get into my car. If I am in the Decatur parking lot I would not really care, but at places like the gas station, right when I get into my car, I lock the doors.” Boger suggests this tactic keeps her safe, so if someone tried to get into her car, she could stay safe and get away quickly.  

If you feel as if you or someone else is targeted by human traffickers, call 911 along with the National Human Trafficking Hotline any hour at 1-888-373-7888. You can also reach them through text at 233733, or chat the hotline via www.humantraffickinghotline.org/chat. To report missing children or child pornography contact the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) at 1-800-843-5678.