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Searching for 'human trafficking' finds more resources in results

June 18, 2012|By Michelle Maltais
  • Yahoo is putting hotline resources on its results page whenever key human trafficking terms are searched.
Yahoo is putting hotline resources on its results page whenever key human… (Yahoo )

As more attention is being paid to children and their safety online, a new initiative joining State Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris, Yahoo and the Polaris Project is targeting modern slavery.

Essentially, the hope is to use the very tool that is instrumental in perpetuating the $32-billion human trafficking industry to direct users to the national hotline whenever certain related terms are searched through Yahoo.

And the goal there is to help identify more victims by connecting survivors and community members to resources and support.

"Thousands of people are sold around the world, and trafficked into our country, every year for commercial sexual exploitation or forced labor,” Harris said in the statement online. "Human trafficking, often of children as young as 5 years of age, is a highly-lucrative enterprise for organized gangs who menace public safety."

Typing in search terms such as "human trafficking" into Yahoo Search will trigger a banner that reads: "Call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1-888-373-7888 to report sex trafficking, forced labor, or to get help."

For website operators, the office of the state attorney general is also providing a widget leading to online resources that can be embedded on your site.

Many victims of human trafficking are runaway girls, first trafficked for sex between the ages of 12 and 14 years old, according to reports. They often have been subjected to sexual abuse as young children.

And California has the distinction -- or shame -- of being home to three of the FBI's 13 highest child-sex trafficking areas-- Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego.

Of the more than 19,000 calls last year to the NHTRC hotline, which is operated by Polaris Project and funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, more of those calls came from California than any other state. 

And nationwide, nearly 20% of callers to report potential human trafficking found the hotline number through an Internet search.

The hotline is available across the United States 24/7 and in more than 170 languages.

The relative anonymity of the Internet has fomented the growth of sex trafficking of women and children and has made it easier than ever.

Another way California is engaging in the effort to eradicate modern slavery is through an initiative on the November ballot -- the Californians Against Sexual Slavery and Exploitation, or CASE, which is geared toward strengthening state laws and punishments for human trafficking. 

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