Human traffickers look for vulnerable people


Photo credit: Briana Mcdaniel

Every 30 seconds a person falls enslaved into human trafficking. Today, it’s most commonly known as modern-day slavery, according to Abolishing Injustice in the 21st Century.

Traffickers look for individuals with certain personalities that are easy to manipulate or individuals who happen to be in challenging situations.

Many believe modern day slavery does not happen in the U.S., let alone our small college town. In reality, our very own Chico State students are falling victim to the second fastest growing criminal industry.

A former Chico State student, who asked to remain anonymous for her safety, said she was trafficked her second year when she could no longer pay her rent and bills.

What started off as a social media job quickly took a turn for the worst.

“You could say I had the personality that most traffickers look for in their victims. I always had mental health issues, low self-esteem and grew up in a bad home,” she said.

As former president of Stop Trafficking of Persons, the human trafficking awareness club on campus, these issues are always reoccurring in the victim stories we learn about. In some form or another the environment the victim grew up in usually contributes to the way traffickers lure them in.

When growing up in loving homes, relationships tend to reflect the care that people grow accustomed to. However, when this is not the case, it is difficult for people to break that cycle and move forward with a healthy life.

This can contribute to human trafficking since traffickers tend to look for vulnerable targets.

According to Psychology Today, the attitudes we have toward ourselves and toward the world around us are a direct result of the way we were raised.

“If we teach our kids that if you have money you are better than everyone, then you are essentially teaching your kids that it is okay to buy people,” the formerly trafficked student said.

These individuals will then see no harm in going out and paying for sexual services, essentially taking part of human trafficking since according to the Bureau of Public Affairs 89 percent of “prostitutes” want a way out.

She said every little lesson we teach our kids contributes to their overall morals and shapes their view of the world.

The STOP! club reminds students that human traffickers are no longer just snatching their victims off the street but are using tactics to manipulate people to believe their life would be better if they followed and did what they’re told.

Traffickers look for personalities similar to this former Chico State student since they will be easier to brainwash than students who grew up in a positive environment.

We need to start looking into and understanding the psychological factors that can contribute to human trafficking and open our eyes to the fact that our childhood plays a key role in shaping the victims and buyers of human trafficking.

Nicte Hernandez can be reached at [email protected] or @NicteHernandez4 on Twitter.