Human trafficking, particularly labor and sex trafficking, are major issues affecting Texas that not many people are aware of due to the clandestine nature of the crime. Funding human trafficking task forces is a significant obstacle in reducing cases, as well as the difficulty of identifying victims. Several red flags identified by Polaris include:
- Lacking health care, appearing malnourished
- Being fearful, anxious, depressed
- Avoiding eye contact
- Having no personal possessions/not in control of fiances/identification materials
- Lack of knowledge over where they are, loss of sense of time
- Inability to clarify residence, has inconsistencies in their story
The proximity to the Mexican border, the diverse population and popular transportation sites make Texas incredibly susceptible to trafficking crime. Within Dallas, I-35 and the major DFW airport have been identified as trafficking hubs. While there are shelters available in Dallas, not all of them are suited for victims of trafficking. Victims may be placed in rape crisis centers or homeless shelters, if the shelter will accept them. Mosaic Family Services in Dallas does provide services for trafficking victims; however, space and resources are limited.
Finding an appropriate response to child victims of sex trafficking is complicated. There is not yet a standardized, quality approach to treating and rehabilitating child victims. Texas is continuing to discover and create guidelines to better service these victims and start them on the path to recovery and healing.
There is no perfect victim of human trafficking and there are no areas completely exempt from trafficking crime. Awareness and action are absolutely necessary to combat this issue; even in the suburbs of the Dallas metroplex, sex and labor trafficking crime exist.
If you suspect someone is a victim of trafficking, please call 1-888-373-7888 or Text BeFREE (233733).