Human trafficking has many faces

Cathy Brownfield

When I got back to Ohio I read the book, Uncivil War: Recovering from Life as a Child Soldier by Jeremiah Bropleh with Julie Green. As I prepared to write this article about human trafficking I remembered that book and on exactly which shelf I had put it. I have a large number of books. I’m telling you about it now because human trafficking has a number of faces.

Have you ever looked around your neighborhood and seen something you thought was just a little bit … off? Do you know what to look for when you are curious about the young girl who seemed never to leave the house across the way? No friends come to hang out. Does she go to school? But maybe she offered the young child with you a popsicle. You thanked her and moved on because things like “that” just don’t happen around your neck of the woods. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security at lists the indicators of human trafficking. The same list can apply to any abusive environment, but the details of human trafficking are more than “just” heartbreaking. There, but for the grace of God, go I! It can happen to anyone. It can happen anywhere. Even here.

Human trafficking is “forced labor.” By the use of force, fraud or coercion, people work or serve the abusers who act like they own them, about 24.9 million persons around the globe in 2016. Risk factors include having an unstable immigration status, language barriers, physical or developmental disabilities. These are persons who are in poverty and don’t have even the most basic needs met, things like food, shelter and safety. Many are vulnerable persons including children. Many are tricked into debts that they can never pay off. They are in too deep to get out without hope and where can they find help?

The U.S. Department of Labor issued a report on the “Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor” in 2021. Around the world, 160 million children ages 5 to 17 were trafficked, 79 million of them in “hazardous” labor. Children are scavenging garbage dumps, exposed to electronic waste, enduring physical, emotional, verbal abuse as domestic servants, and fighting as child combatants, which brings me back to the book I mentioned. Check that out the report at


Children are the greatest resource of any nation, the future of the world will come to rest in their hands one day. They need to be given opportunities, love and acceptance, nurturing. Think about that for a little while.

What are our roles in the world of human trafficking? What can we do? To report suspected trafficking, call 1-866-347-2423. To get help from the National Human Trafficking Hotline, call 1-888-373-7888.

Family Recovery Center has professional staff who are ready to listen when you have no one else to talk to. The goal is for the health and well-being of all. Contact the agency at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or email Visit the website at You can find Family Recovery Center at Facebook. FRC is funded in part by the United Way of Northern Columbiana County.