HAP's Latest News

Raising Awareness about Human Trafficking in Pennsylvania

January 13, 2023

This month, state leaders announced efforts to combat human trafficking in Pennsylvania and raise awareness about resources for survivors.

During National Human Trafficking Prevention Month, HAP joins organizations around the country focused on this effort to bring an end to human trafficking in Pennsylvania and around the world.

Human trafficking is the exploitation of people using force, fraud, or coercion for the purposes of commercial sex, forced labor, or domestic servitude. The International Labor Organization estimates that there are 28 million victims of human trafficking globally.

The National Human Trafficking hotline (888-373-7888) is a 24/7 resource for victims and service providers that also collects statewide data on human trafficking. The hotline has identified 1,897 cases of human trafficking involving 4,048 victims in the state since 2007.

“Human trafficking occurs everywhere, in every corner of the world, and certainly here in Pennsylvania,” said Dr. Denise Johnson, acting secretary of health and Pennsylvania physician general.

State officials noted that it is difficult to identify a trafficking situation, but potential warning signs include:

  • Lack of knowledge of a person’s community or whereabouts
  • Restricted or controlled communication where people cannot speak for themselves
  • People not in control of their own identification documents
  • Signs of branding or tattooing of a trafficker’s name (often on the neck)

During a press conference this month, state leaders discussed efforts across departments to identify victims of human trafficking and encouraged the general public to stay vigilant about the potential signs. The state also provided general and county-specific resources for victims and survivors.

“The consequences of sex trafficking are similar to the consequences of other sexual violence,” Dr. Johnson said in a statement. “Consequences can be immediate and long-term, including physical and relationship problems, psychological concerns, and negative chronic health outcomes. But sex trafficking is preventable, and we are fighting back in a variety of ways.”