The super bowl is a much-loved American tradition that in recent years has been tainted by the sad reality of sexual exploitation. This anticipated yearly event has become a hotspot for human traffickers to prey on innocent victims. Temporary workers associated with large sporting events remain an attractive target for trafficking. The upcoming Miami Super Bowl is a real concern, with the expectation of increased trafficking activity in a city that already ranks third in the nation for human trafficking.
Human trafficking can be defined as the kidnapping, transportation, and exploitation of individuals for physical and/or sexual slavery.
Statistically speaking, each year reported incidents of trafficking with the United States skyrocket during January and February, the months associated with the Super Bowl. In addition to temporary workers, the influx of people visiting the cities where the event is held attract illegal activities, such as sex trafficking and human trafficking. Sex rings are always on the move to avoid detection and find a place ripe with victims. Thus, they will follow the pattern of large sporting events to meet their demand.
Last year, the months surrounding the Super Bowl saw a significant increase of incidents of human trafficking. Statistics show roughly 450 cases of human trafficking in January of 2019 alone. This number further increased to a whopping 540 incidents in February of 2019. The numbers did not decrease again until March 2019, well after the end of the Super Bowl.
All hope is not lost as awareness of human and sex trafficking continues to gain awareness. Community and law enforcement are more prepared than ever before to address this issue during the Super Bowl and its surrounding months. Police have been taking steps to train and inform those who may encounter traffickers/victims. Management and employees in the business of hotels, restaurants, massage parlors, and clubs are now trained to recognize and report suspicious activity.
Hotels within Miami have taken additional steps to help fight back against trafficking by hosting an anti-trafficking summit, last month in preparation for the Super Bowl. Workers within the industry received specialty training on how to identify potential human trafficking. Law enforcement continue to do their best to prevent incidents during and throughout the extended period of heightened trafficking activities. Despite this, one of the most powerful tools for addressing these heinous activities is through the use of individuals within the hospitality industry.
While this time of year brings the frightening and saddening reality of extreme human trafficking, more than ever our nation is coming together to fight back against this atrocity.