On National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, I can’t help but asking myself one question. When did human trafficking become the first thing people thought of when someone went missing?

I recently moved to Idaho from Iowa. I’ve been in the state for less than a week, but I’ve already heard about locations where human trafficking is most likely to happen in the state and stories about the massage parlors here.

In college I produced a documentary on sex trafficking in Iowa. Even then trying to find statistics and information for resources felt like I was scraping the bottom of the barrel.

Now with an internet search I can find a handful of resources for people in Idaho if they are trafficked and find stats that go back to 2012.

The most surprising statistic in Idaho from the Dept. of Health & Human Services is that from December 2012-2016 38 adults were trafficked compared to the nine minors reported in the 49 cases. In 2018, the Human Trafficking Hotline reports there were eight human trafficking cases reported and 31 calls from people in the state. The hotline's numbers for 2018 come in fewer than the 13 cases reported in 2017. Although it may seem like a small amount, the numbers from states add up, as nationally 5,147 human trafficking cases were reported in 2018.

Just this past summer, Idaho began shedding light on the national issue. They opened their first safe house for trafficking victims in Boise.

Whatever the reason for more national and statewide attention on human trafficking, I’m thankful. I can’t help but hope and expect more places like the safe house will become available in the future for victims.

If you see trafficking, are a victim, or believe trafficking could be occurring, contact the national hotline at 888–373–7888.

Click here for more information about Human Trafficking Prevention in Idaho.