The Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) of 2000 (2003, 2005, 2008, 2013, 2015, and 2017) is the first comprehensive federal law to address trafficking in persons. The law provides a three-pronged approach that includes prevention, protection, and prosecution.
The Act authorized the establishment of the State Department's Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons and the President's Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (the Task Force) to assist in the coordination of anti-trafficking efforts.
The Act directs the Task Force to: (1) coordinate the implementation of this division; (2) measure and evaluate progress of the United States and other countries in trafficking prevention, provision of assistance to and protection of trafficking victims, and prosecution of and enforcement against traffickers; (3) assist the Secretary in the preparation of the reports under section 110; (4) expand interagency procedures to collect and organize data and to respect the confidentiality of trafficking victims; (5) engage in efforts to facilitate cooperation among countries of origin, transit, and destination; (6) examine the role of the international "sex tourism" industry in the trafficking of persons and in the sexual exploitation of women and children around the world; and (7) engage in consultation and advocacy with governmental and nongovernmental organizations, among other entities, to advance the purposes of this division.
The Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP Report) is the U.S. Government's principal diplomatic tool to engage foreign governments on human trafficking. It is also the world’s most comprehensive resource of governmental anti-trafficking efforts and reflects the U.S. Government's commitment to global leadership on this key human rights and law enforcement issue. The 2019 Tip Report calls on governments to ensure they are addressing all forms of human trafficking and finding a balanced approach and reports that in just two decades, 168 governments have implemented domestic legislation criminalizing all forms of human trafficking whether the crime happens transnationally or nationally.
Under U.S. federal law, "severe forms of trafficking in persons" includes both sex trafficking and labor trafficking:
- Sex Trafficking is the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, obtaining, patronizing, or soliciting of a person for the purposes of a commercial sex act, in which the commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act has not attained 18 years of age (22 USC § 7102).
- Labor Trafficking is the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purposes of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery, (22 USC § 7102).
In 2019, the National Human Trafficking Hotline, a resource supported by the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), received 23,784 contacts with nearly 4,585 cases of potential human trafficking reported. Of those contacts, 5,298 were calls from victims and survivors. There were 3,266 cases of sex trafficking, 525 cases of labor trafficking with minors accounting for 1,061 of all trafficking cases reported to the hotline.
The Department of Justice's anti-trafficking efforts involve numerous components engaged in investigating and prosecuting human trafficking crimes, stabilizing and supporting trafficking victims, and expanding outreach and training. The Civil Rights Division, Criminal Division, U.S. Attorneys' Offices, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Office of Justice Programs all play important roles in the Department's broad-based anti-trafficking efforts. Many of these components contain multiple offices or sections that each work on different aspects of the fight against human trafficking. OJP's Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) helps victims find local programs, helplines, compensation programs and more. OVC provides resources for U.S. citizens both inside the U.S. and abroad as well as international victims. One such resource is a searchable database that allows victims to search by type of crime, such as human trafficking.
The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) supports several programs to increase the availability of direct support services for children and youth who are victims of commercial sexual exploitation, facilitate outreach efforts, and develop organizations' capacities to identify and respond to this vulnerable population. OJJDP funds the Specialized Services and Mentoring for Child and Youth Victims of Sex Trafficking Initiative to increase the availability of direct support services for children and youth who are victims of commercial sexual exploitation, facilitate outreach efforts, and develop organizations' capacities to mentor this vulnerable population. With OJJDP support, the Youth Collaboratory developed a toolkit for youth service providers to build their understanding of the commercial sexual exploitation of child.
The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, with OJJDP support, has developed the National Judicial Institute on Domestic Child Sex Trafficking to help judicial officers better understand the dynamics of domestic child sex trafficking, the applicable laws and legal considerations involving trafficking victims, how to identify trafficked and at-risk children, and how to connect these youth to appropriate services.
OJJDP also support the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC), which serves as an information clearinghouse and resource for those who are searching for missing children and working to address child victimization and sexual exploitation. The center operates a 24-hour toll-free Missing Children's Hotline and a CyberTipline. In 2018, there were over 424,000 reports of missing children made to law enforcement in the United States. In its 21st year and with support from OJJDP, the AMBER Alert system is now being used in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Indian country, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and 27 other countries. As of September 2019, a total of 967 children had been successfully recovered through the AMBER Alert.
Access to Victim Services
The OVC Human Trafficking site provides access to a searchable matrix of services for trafficking victims — including outreach, legal/court advocacy, specialized, mental health, emergency shelter and intensive case management — from organizations that are funded by OVC and Bureau of Justice Assistance grants. Also see the Services and Task Forces Map for easy access to this program information.
Additional Resources for Help
Following are examples of websites that provide information and resources on human trafficking:
- Department of Justice (DOJ): Human Trafficking: The DOJ's Human Trafficking online resource outlines the department's efforts to combat human trafficking. The section includes the National Strategy to Combat Human Trafficking report that describes plans to enhance coordination within the department to stop human trafficking.
- Department of Justice (DOJ): Project Safe Childhood: Project Safe Childhood works to combat child sexual exploitation and abuse and is led by the U.S. Attorneys' Office and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section.
- National Criminal Justice Reference Service (NCJRS): Human Trafficking: The NCJRS Human Trafficking Special Feature captures information and resources about different forms of trafficking and includes materials for victims and those who provide services to victims.
- Department of Health and Human Services (HHS): Office on Trafficking in Persons (OTIP): OTIP is responsible for the development of strategies, policies, and programs to prevent human trafficking, build health and human service capacity to respond to trafficking, increase victim identification and access to services, and strengthen health and well-being outcomes of survivors of human trafficking.
- Department of Homeland Security (DHS): Blue Campaign: The DHS Blue Campaign works with law enforcement, government, non-government and private organizations to raise public awareness in an effort to fight human trafficking.
- Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI): Violent Crimes Against Children/Online Predators: The FBI's Violent Crimes Against Children program identifies and rescues child victims and works to reduce the vulnerability of children to in-person and online sexual exploitation and abuse. Its investigation priorities are child abductions, child sexual exploitation enterprises, contact offenses against children, trafficking of child pornography, international parental kidnapping and other crimes against children.
- President's Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking (PITF): Chaired by the Secretary of State, PITF meets annually and was created to coordinate federal efforts to combat trafficking in persons.
Following are training and technical assistance resources that have been created by and are available from the Office of Justice Program bureaus and offices related to human trafficking:
Office for Victims of Crime (OVC): Human Trafficking: The OVC Human Trafficking site provides information about human trafficking as well as resources, phone numbers and task force programs by location.
Office for Victims of Crime Training and Technical Assistance Center (OVC TTAC)
The mission of OVC TTAC is to bridge the gap among knowledge experience, and victim assistance practice to help the still-evolving victim assistance field successfully meet the challenges of an increasingly complex service delivery environment. OVC TTAC offers both online and onsite training and technical assistance opportunities.
Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force Initiative: To combat human trafficking, BJA develops training for law enforcement and communities to identify trafficking in persons and rescue victims by working with federal law enforcement and victims service providers and supports task forces across the nation in coordination with OVC and HHS.
Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force Strategy and Operations e-Guide
This Office for Victims of Crime and Bureau of Justice Assistance e-Guide provides direction and promising practices on anti-human trafficking Task Force creation, structure, and enhancement and includes links to many tools, trainings, and resources for victim service providers, law enforcement agencies, and prosecutors.
Bureau of Justice Assistance Training and Technical Assistance Center (BJA NTTAC)
Established in 2008, the BJA NTTAC promotes BJA's mission by facilitating the delivery of high-quality, strategically focused training and technical assistance to achieve safe communities nationwide.