What Is Human Trafficking and What Can I Do About It?

Jan 25, 2021

January is Human Trafficking Awareness month, an annual opportunity to focus on the realities of this complex and troubling issue impacting our own neighborhoods. The Salvation Army has been fighting against such injustice since our founding in 1865. Drawing on those years of experience, we’ve gathered some basic facts and action points to help you join the fight.

What Is Human Trafficking?

Human Trafficking is…

the recruitment or movement of a person, by force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of profiting from the exploitation of that person. Individuals are bought and sold and forced into commercial sexual exploitation or forced labor.

Human Trafficking is…

not just something that happens “over there.” It affects every country in the world in some way, and it can trap anyone – male or female, child or adult, rich or poor. Its victims cross racial, ethnic, geographic, economic, and educational backgrounds.

Human Trafficking is…

a criminal system based on greed, control, and power. In whatever shape or form, all people dream of a hopeful future, whether it’s to be loved, to be seen, to belong, or to find a better future for their families. Traffickers exploit those desires among those who are most vulnerable and makes promises that are deceptive.

Human Trafficking is…

often difficult to see or acknowledge. It’s sometimes hard to talk about. Yet it’s something that as communities we have to address.

Human Trafficking is…

something that dehumanizes people, turning them into objects and commodities. At The Salvation Army, we care about the issue of human trafficking because we believe that every person is made in God’s image and is, therefore, valuable and worthy of dignity. Our hope is to see people restored into the fullness of who God created them to be.

Human Trafficking is…

something too big to stop on our own. We need to come together with other churches, organizations, businesses, and community leaders to fight human trafficking, and above all, we turn to God asking Him to stop human trafficking.


What Can I Do?

Raise awareness in your community.

Invite someone from The Salvation Army’s STOP-IT anti-trafficking program to speak with you and your circle. They are happy to share with any group – colleagues, friends, church groups, etc. Currently all of their awareness presentations are taking place virtually. Contact them at STOP-IT@usc.salvationarmy.org if you would like to invite someone to speak with your group.

Share the description of trafficking above with your circle of influence. When COVID-19 restrictions allow, consider hosting an awareness event, showing a documentary that addresses the problem of human trafficking. Suggestions include Not My Life, Trade of Innocents, Chosen, In Plain Sight, Very Young Girls, and Not for Sale.

Teach children online safety.

You can find resources at netsmartz.org.

Fight the demand.

The first step in any endeavor is learning more about the issue. If you have time, please consider “attending” this pre-recorded webinar from World Without Exploitation: Why We Must Address Demand to End Trafficking.

You can learn more about the connection between pornography and sex trafficking at pornharmsresearch.com. Defenders USA (sharedhope.org) and The X3Network (x3pure.com) help fight the demand for commercial sex trafficking by addressing the struggle with pornography or sexual addiction. Learn about the connection between consumerism and labor trafficking from the Global Slavery Index (globalslaveryindex.org) and Slavery Footprint (productsofslavery.org). These sites are tools to understand the problem, responses, and contributing factors related to labor trafficking.

Care for children and youth in the foster care system.

Children and youth in the foster care system in the U.S. are targeted by traffickers because of their need for love and protection, particularly after they “age out” of the system.


Only the power of God can end a tragedy this pervasive. Alone or with others, use the Anti-Trafficking Devotional Prayer Guide for the month. Prayer guides are also available for downloading at the Faith Alliance Against Slavery and Trafficking (FAAST) website: faastinternational.org/resourcestoolkits. Or say the prayer below.

A Prayer for Victims of Human Trafficking

Dear God, we pray for victims of human trafficking … for those who have been dehumanized and held captive by the greed and violence of a broken world. For girls and boys, women and men, who are bought and sold and abused by those who have forgotten the eternal value of a human soul. May they rediscover their worth in You. And may we affirm their worth as individuals who are made in Your image.

Lord, reveal the way our choices may play a part in keeping others captives by creating demand for more slaves, and give us courage to make different choices. Give us eyes to see injustice and exploitation, and give us the courage to speak out against evil.

Use us to bring light into the darkened corners of this world, that they may not remain dark forever.

May Your light expose the evil deeds of the captors, and may Your love create a change of heart within those who are perpetrators of human trafficking.

Use us to loosen the chains of injustice and let the oppressed go free. We pray for an end to the evil that is human trafficking, and we pray that the victims of trafficking may find restoration and healing in You.


Mobilize your church.

Toolkits and resources geared toward churches who want to engage in anti-human trafficking efforts are available through these websites:

  • SA Justice: sajustice.us
  • Stop the Traffik: stopthetraffik.org/usa
  • Faith Alliance Against Slavery and Trafficking (FAAST): faastinternational.org
  • Alliance for Freedom, Restoration, and Justice (AFRJ): engagetogether.com/church
  • The Salvation Army: salvationarmy.org/ihq/antitrafficking
  • Nazarene Compassionate Ministries: ncm.org/trafficking
  • Ending Human Trafficking podcast: endinghumantrafficking.org

If your church is interested in getting involved in anti-trafficking efforts, don’t hesitate to reach out to discuss partnering with The Salvation Army STOP-IT program at STOP-IT@usc.salvationarmy.org.

Learn more about trafficking.

The websites listed above all offer a wealth of information about the realities of human trafficking from trusted sources in the field. You can also watch a panel discussion from a recent Salvation Army webinar during which staff share common misunderstandings about trafficking: Human Trafficking: Myths and Misconceptions.

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