Human Trafficking Myths and Truths - Minnesota Department of Health

Human Trafficking Myth or Truth

What do you know about human trafficking and exploitation in Minnesota? Read below for common beliefs about human trafficking.

Myth: The Mall of America is a hotbed of activity.

Recruitment activity in public spaces like malls does not happen as often as it may seem. Traffickers and exploiters try to recruit people with certain vulnerabilities and life circumstances. Young people are likely no more at risk at the Mall of America than they are at other public settings. Recruitment most often occurs online or through someone the young person already knows.

Myth: There are hidden and underground trafficking rings everywhere.

Trafficking and exploitation usually happens in plain sight. Labor trafficking may occur in workplaces, as domestic nannies or housekeepers, in restaurants and hotels, and elsewhere. Sex trafficking may occur in homes, abandoned buildings, hotels, strip clubs, advertised as escort services, and elsewhere.

Myth: It’s common for traffickers to abduct victims.

Abductions are rare exceptions. Traffickers usually intentionally deceive and manipulate people they know. This process is called grooming. Traffickers and exploiters may befriend new people or recruit those already in their social, community, and family circles. This happens over time.

Truth: Traffickers and exploiters use the internet.

The internet is frequently used to identify, recruit, and groom victims of all ages, backgrounds, and genders. It is also commonly used by traffickers to advertise sexual services for sale.

Truth: Trafficking and exploitation can happen to anyone regardless of gender.

Keep in mind that men and boys are also trafficked and exploited. Some groups of people tend to be impacted more often such as women, girls, transgender, and gender non-conforming.

Myth: Trafficking is inevitable and will always happen.

Human trafficking and exploitation is preventable. It is a complex issue impacted by many societal factors. Connect with your Regional Navigator to learn about these societal influences. For tips, reach out to a community-based services provider or Regional Navigator. Take care of yourself. Stop the conversation if it takes a direction you’re uncomfortable with.

For more information, view the Safe Harbor Human Trafficking Guides:

If you or someone you know is being sexual exploited or trafficked, please contact your Regional Navigator or contact the Day One Hotline to learn more about services available in your community at 1-866-223-1111.

For more information on Safe Harbor, contact Caroline Palmer, Safe Harbor Director, at or 651-201-5492

Updated Wednesday, 23-Mar-2022 12:29:46 CDT