Human trafficking is a type of injustice that violates basic human rights. Initially viewed as a victimless crime, it is now recognized as multiple types of long-term involuntary servitude for purposes of providing sex or labor, forced upon a defenseless individual, usually a woman or child, using fraud, force, and/or coercion. The term “trafficking” is deceptive because a person need not be transported to another location in order to become a victim of human trafficking.
Social scientists estimate that globally, as many as 27 million men, women, and children are victims of human trafficking at any one time, but only 40,000 victims were identified last year. This is a crime that occurs in the shadows, out of the view and reach of law enforcement. Human traffickers prey on the poor, the homeless, ethnic minorities and indigenous groups, migrant workers, undocumented immigrants, persons with disabilities, and other marginalized populations reluctant to seek assistance from the government or other organizations.
The U.S. is one of the top destination countries for human trafficking, and California is one of the four top destination states in the country. Human traffickers are becoming increasingly sophisticated and organized. New tools, such as social media, are making it easier to attract potential victims, facilitate the crime, and evade law enforcement. Despite the best efforts of federal, state, and local law enforcement and other government agencies, nonprofit organizations providing services to victims and their families, faith-based organizations, and concerned families and grassroots organizations, human trafficking has increased significantly in California since 2007, and the total number of victims is increasing.
How to Help
Here's what you need to recognize and report human trafficking.
What to look for:
- Fearful, anxious, depressed, submissive, tense, or nervous/paranoid behavior
- Lack of knowledge of whereabouts and/or time
- Signs of malnourishment, physical abuse or restraint, confinement, or torture
- Few or no personal possessions
- Under control by another person
What to do:
Contact one of the agencies listed below to report human trafficking in Orange County. Before you do, please note the ethnicity, sex, age, height, hair color, distinguishing features and location of the potential victim. Wait to report until you are in a safe place.
- Call the National Human Trafficking Hotline: 1-888-373-7888, open 24/7 and you can remain anonymous.
- If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, please call 911.
- Call the Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force, Community Service Programs Victim Assistance: 1-949-250-4058.
- Call the Child Abuse Hotline: 714-940-1000.
- Call the Salvation Army-Network of Emergency Trafficking Services: 1-714-783-2338.
- Call the U.S. Department of Justice Hotline: 1-888-428-7581.
Help is Here for YOU
If you are looking for help, please reach out. Call these numbers below any time day or night.
- Call the National Human Trafficking Hotline: 1-888-373-7888
- Text 233-733 (Be Free)
- Call 911
For more information, please visit the links below:
- Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force
- California Attorney General's Human Trafficking Home Page
- Ways to Help Prevent Child Sex Trafficking
- Be the One OC
Human Trafficking Town Hall
On September 30, 2021, Mayor Elaine Gennawey and the Laguna Niguel Woman's Club co-hosted an informative Town Hall on Human Trafficking. Attendees learned about what human tracking looks like in South Orange County, who are the victims, how to help victims become survivors, and much more. To view the educational Human Trafficking Town Hall, please click the video below.