According to human rights advocates, human trafficking happens every day in major cities across the U.S. Now, in the largest study of its kind, researchers have found that as much as one-fifth of all homeless youth in the U.S. are victims of human trafficking, most likely for purposes of sex. The study also showed that LGBTQ youth accounted for nearly one-third of the sex-trafficking victims.

Among the dozen cities the report investigated, along with Toronto and Vancouver were: Anchorage, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Detroit, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Oakland, California, Phoenix, Arizona, St. Louis, and Washington.

Sex trafficking though is not exclusive to cities alone, it occurs in all sorts of areas, including rural. People are prone to the risk of being sex trafficked - if homeless or living in poverty, if involved in the child welfare system or those with a history of childhood abuse, family conflict or violence.

They’re also likely to be victims of trafficking if they experience things common to teenagers: A desire to be independent or to test societal boundaries, if they feel misunderstood or think their parents don’t care enough or being attracted to material goods.

Too many youth desperate and alone on the streets making them vulnerable to traffickers. We are living in a world where desperate kids are bought and sold. If we wish to cut down the menace, reduce the number of youth who are being trafficked, we first have to deal with youth homelessness.

Increasingly some pimps are even branding their victims, often with tattoos on their bodies. Tracking chips too are becoming more popular in the world of sex trafficking. Tags are often found on victims' hands - between the thumb and the forefinger, as well as underneath their arms and on necks.

There are several things that members of the public can watch out for to spot a victim of sex trafficking. Physical indicators, such as malnourishment and multiple STDs or pregnancies. What a concerned person can ask themselves about a suspected victim is whether or not they are being exploited in any way — either for money or something else of value.

The Women Like Us Foundation has highlighted this nefarious practice in the past. We have shed light on incidents in the U.S as well as in other parts of the world. The recent statistics only bear testimony to how entrenched this practice is within our society.

We have made considerable efforts in the past as well as ongoing to tackle the menace on three fronts – Education, Homelessness and Trafficking itself. We have achieved considerable impact on our own and also worked hand-in-hand with like-minded organizations towards this goal. But much still needs to be done and any help is welcome. Learn how you too can contribute here...