UNICEF Promotes January As Human Trafficking Awareness Month

Human trafficking is a form of modern-day bondage and something, I have to admit, I knew very little about.

In December, on a family day trip to nearby Virginia, my family and I visited two historical sites. One of those sites was the Ben Lomond House, which had a well-preserved slave cabin still standing on the property. An object of our ancestry, as well as history books, it was our first time ever stepping foot in one.

Human Trafficking
Inside The Slave Quarters at Ben Lomond Historic Site

We learned quite a bit that day about how our enslaved ancestors celebrated Christmas and New Year’s. The most interesting factoids were that on Christmas, everyone (except the cook) was given the day off. On this day, they were “allowed” to indulge in spirits (liquor), party freely (mostly for the entertainment of their owners), as well as move about freely to other slave quarters and plantations.

My oldest son asked a significant question: “Mommy, are there still slaves?” My answer: “Nope.” And then I thought about it and rephrased. “Well, no, not like it was back then. Not like that in the United States. At least, not that we know of. It happens in a few small places in the world but not like it was here.” I stumbled on my words because I honestly didn’t know how right or wrong I was.

Turns out, I was kinda wrong.

Facts on Human Trafficking

Yesterday’s slavery is today’s human trafficking. An estimated 5.5 million children worldwide are victims of child trafficking. This illegal enterprise generates an estimated $32 billion in profits per year! Did you know that human trafficking existed in the United States? Reportedly, there are thousands of cases reported in every state. States with the highest rates of victims of human trafficking are California, Texas, Florida, and New York. If you think like me, your next question is, what is human trafficking in the U.S.?

Basically, human trafficking involves grueling forced labor with little or no pay, being bought and sold, and forced into prostitution. The definition of human trafficking encompasses labor trafficking which happens in restaurants, bars, hotels, agriculture, and construction. It also encompasses sex trafficking which happens in brothels, strip clubs, escort/massage services, as pimp-controlled prostitution, on the street or on the internet.

Trafficking Prevention

The U.S. Fund for UNICEF has launched the End Trafficking project, which raises awareness about child trafficking and mobilizes communities within the U.S. to take purposeful action to help protect children. Want to get involved?

On UNICEF’s site, you can find ways in which you can help end child trafficking. There’s a 1-pager, a toolkit, and educator resources for middle and high school. You can volunteer by joining the UNICEF Action Center or call 888-373-7888 to report potential cases.

We all have a hand in raising our world’s children. And it’s my firm belief that is our responsibility to keep all children safe and help them to have the happy childhood that they deserve. Tell me what you think. Did you know all of this about human trafficking?


This post was written in conjunction with the U.S. Fund for UNICEF and the Social Good Moms, Global Team of 200.


  1. says

    So critical to raise our consciousness about these issues. Many’s the time in history when good people have sat on their hands because they didn’t know, or didn’t want to know. This cannot be the accusation made of our generation. Thank you for sharing this with your community.

    • worldtravelmom says

      Chrysula, I 100% agree with you. I think you hit the nail on the head – people aren’t aware and they don’t know how to act. If we can show them simple ways that they can make a difference, I believe that most people will choose making one. We just need to show them how. Our generation has so much at our fingertips and the easy ability to access and share information. That’s step 1 and it needn’t stop there. Thanks for stopping by.

    • worldtravelmom says

      Lucrecer, I know! And then there’s this conflict in my mind, my own bit of ignorance where I’m like, how can this be so easy and how can sooo many be affected. Watching the PSA, my first thought is, if we could all just adopt one, we could save a child and get that number to 0. But I know it’s not as easy as that either.

  2. says

    I knew about human trafficking. It’s sad and sometimes overwhelming especially when I think about the children.

    But that shouldn’t stop me from helping, from trying to spread the word and trying to do something. Because every little bit helps. Thanks for this post, Tawanna!

  3. worldtravelmom says

    Hey Sili, thanks for spreading the word and stopping by. As I sit and think about this, I wonder to myself, what ways can be get their hands a little “dirtier” with this. I’m not really a backpacker but Invisible Children founder Jason Russell had the right idea.

  4. LaShaun says

    Thank you for shining the light on this subject! So many people live in a bubble and can’t think beyond their living room. We need to do a better job of making our children aware of how other children are being sacrificed.

  5. says

    Kudos to you for bringing up a controversial subject most Americans are not aware of. The annual statistics given by UNICEF are scary to say the least. MSNBC and CNN have presented several eye opening documentaries on international trafficking as well.

  6. says

    This is a subject that I feel really powerless around. I think Americans know what’s going on but unfortunately we need to be spoon fed exactly how we can help. It’s really a painful topic, thanks for this article.

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