Hiding in Plain Sight

Many Americans view human trafficking as a problem faced by the global community, but no community is free from the effects of human trafficking, even in Iowa. Anyone can become a victim of human trafficking, regardless of age, sex, race, gender, ability, class, sexuality and many other factors, although women and girls of color are disproportionately affected (Polaris). While human trafficking can involve individuals being moved across cities and states, there are many victims sold in their homes, school or community.

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What is Human Trafficking?

According to the Department of Homeland Security Human trafficking involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act.Traffickers exploit vulnerabilities in their victims and these include:

  • psychological or emotional vulnerabilities
  • economic hardship
  • lack of a social safety net
  • citizenship status
  • natural disasters
  • political instability
  • And many others

In the United States, women and girls of color are disproportionately represented in both sex and labor trafficking (Polaris). 

Below are resources that provide basic information and relevant statistics.

Department of Homeland Security - Blue Campaign 

Polaris 

National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

Recognizing Red Flags

It’s not always something obvious. It could be something small that just doesn’t seem right. Either way, recognizing potential red flags of human trafficking is imperative to identifying human trafficking victims and helping them receive assistance.

For general warning signs click here.

Watch and Report

Recognizing the signs of human trafficking is the first step to identifying a victim. If you see something that seems suspicious, do not at any time attempt to confront a suspected trafficker or alert a victim to your suspicions. For your safety, and that of the victim, notify local law enforcement and call the National Human Trafficking Hotline:888-373-7888, or text HELP to BeFree (233733).

You can also:

  • Call 911 in an emergency
  • Call the Iowa Victim Service Center Hotline at 1-800-770-1650 or text IOWAHELP to 20121
  • Contact the Iowa ICAC Task Force with questions or to request online safety information
  • Make a report to the Cyber Tipline if you see suspicious activity online
  • Report child abuse to the Iowa Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-362-2178

Local Resources

Resources for Human Trafficking survivors.

Iowa Network Against Human Trafficking - Statewide Volunteer Organization  

Iowa Department of Transportation - Iowa Victim Services Resource Map

Wings of Refuge - Christian-based residential program for women in sex trafficking (18+)

Dorothy’s House - Christian-based residential care for teen girl survivors of sex trafficking

Human Trafficking Service Programs - Iowa Attorney General list of resources

Lila Mae's House - Christian-based 2-year residential program for 18+ women survivors of sex trafficking

A Generation Rising

Each Teens Against Human Trafficking team works with a staff member (teacher, advisor, etc.) in their school to determine the best approach to raise awareness in their school and community. The students take on leadership roles and implement educational programs while continuing to expand their knowledge of labor trafficking and sex trafficking.

Teans Against Human Trafficking Teams:

  • Educate students at their school about the issue, warning signs and how to protect themselves
  • Host school or community documentary showings
  • Fundraise for safe homes and victim services in Iowa
  • Increase awareness through media coverage, including local and school newspapers
  • Raise Awareness through visual and performing arts
  • Lobby for legislation relevant to anti-trafficking efforts
  • Create their own customized awareness activities and events
  • Critically analyze societal structures that support human trafficking
mental health services

Join the Fight!

Are you a student looking to bring a Teens Against Human Trafficking team to your school? Click the link below to learn how to get started and acquire the materials!

Starting a Teens Against Human Trafficking team

Are you a community member interested in learning more about human trafficking? Do you want to become more involved in organizations fighting human trafficking or take personal action? Click the link below to access resources about the causes and impacts of human trafficking and ways you can protect your family and community. 

Learn More about Human Trafficking

Teens Against Human Trafficking Background

Peer education has been shown to reduce risk-taking behaviors, especially with alcohol consumption(Peer Health Education on a College Campus). Teens Against Human Trafficking teams (TAHT) are peer-to-peer based and have a history that Iowans can be proud of. Founded in 2013 by Iowa teen, Lexi O’Connor, TAHT has been represented in numerous newspaper articles and local TV stories. Between 2016 and 2019, when funded, TAHT programming appeared in over 200 schools in Iowa and educated over 50,000 youth and adults (3 Year VOCA Outcomes). During this time there were 971 referrals for service and 11,140 professionals that participated in training.  TAHT teams strive to eliminate human trafficking and check out Join the Fight to find out how to make an impact in your community.

Reach out today!

Please feel free to contact us with questions or for more information. If your request is urgent in nature, we request you contact us by phone at 515.233.3141.