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H.E.A.T. Watch – Stop Human Exploitation and Trafficking

National Human Trafficking Hotline: 1(888) 373-7888
Alameda County H.E.A.T. Watch Tip Line: 1(510) 208-4959
Office of the District Attorney, Alameda County
Nancy E. O'Malley, District Attorney

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what is human trafficking?

Human trafficking is an umbrella term encompassing all forms of exploitation occurring locally, nationally, and abroad. Jurisdictional and geographic boundaries are often crossed by traffickers and their victims. Human trafficking knows no borders. Though many believe human trafficking occurs only in foreign countries, 83% of all confirmed sex-trafficking victims in the United States are from the United States.

Trafficking takes many forms but is most commonly separated into sex and labor trafficking, and people can be victims of both. Both adults and children are victims with the median age of entry for girls falling between 12-14 while boys and transgendered youth average 11-13.

two types of trafficking, labor trafficking and sex trafficking. Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children is a subset of sex trafficking

Many people don’t realize that human trafficking occurs in the United States with both citizen and non-citizen victims. According to the National Human Trafficking hotline, California has the highest number of human trafficking reports with the Bay Area marked as a hot spot.

National Human Trafficking Hotline 2017 California State Report

Sex Trafficking

Occurs when someone uses force, fraud, or coercion to cause a commercial sex act with an adult or causes a minor to commit a commercial sex act. A commercial sex act could be prostitution, pornography, or sexual performance in exchange for any item of value, such as, money, drugs, shelter, food, or clothes. [1]

Labor Trafficking

Occurs when individuals perform labor or services through the use of force, fraud, or coercion. Labor trafficking includes situations of debt bondage, forced labor, and involuntary child labor (National Human Trafficking Resource Center, 2016)


Language used to describe exploitation has perpetuated the myth that human trafficking is a victimless crime.

  • Terms like “prostitute” or "whore" give a false impression that victims choose to be exploited. Traffickers profit from these labels, which take blame and action away from the exploiter and place it on the victim.
  • Children are not prostitutes, they are sexually exploited minors.
  • The men who have sex with these minors are not 'Johns', they are child rapists.
  • People who sell other people for profit are not bosses, pimps or business men, they are exploiters and traffickers.
  • Challenging how we label victims and exploiters will help change how society views this crime.

[1] Shared Hope: What is Sex Trafficking?