Human trafficking is a fundamental human rights violation. Its victims are among the most vulnerable populations in this country. It robs individuals of their freedom and their dignity, it splinters families, and it threatens public safety and national security.
Today, human trafficking takes many forms. In the United States for example, human trafficking cases have involved migrants (both documented and undocumented), the exploitation of children who have run away from home to escape abuse, and the abuse of developmentally disabled adults who are forced to work for long hours with little pay.
Unfortunately, trafficking victims don’t always see themselves as victims, often blaming themselves for their situation. This makes discovering the crime more difficult for law enforcement because victims rarely self-report, and the time and resources required to uncover violations can be significant. In the end, too many victims are misidentified and treated as criminals or undocumented migrants.
Human trafficking affects every demographic, but a common attribute among all victims is their vulnerability to exploitation due to systemic social, cultural, and economic policies that marginalize or discriminate against these individuals. Traffickers exploit these disadvantages. They prey on those who lack security and opportunity, coerce or deceive their victims to gain control, and then profit from their compelled service.
Responding to a crime as complex and as devastating as human trafficking is neither simple nor straightforward. The Department of Justice has supported the development of multidisciplinary task forces across the United States to investigate and prosecute traffickers, support victims, and educate the public.
Through their websites, the Office for Victims of Crime and Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention highlight news, resources, and more related to human trafficking and the efforts of agencies to prevent incidents of trafficking and to support services to victims.
Additionally, the National Institute of Justice, through the funding of rigorous research, is working to advance understanding of the nature and extent of human trafficking: how to improve the detection, investigation, and prosecution of traffickers, and how to address the needs of victims and provide needed services.
To learn more, select a page from the "Human Trafficking" box for information and resources produced or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs and other federal agencies.