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The Negative Effects of Human Trafficking on People’s Well Being


Human trafficking is modern-day human slavery (Farrell & de Vries, 2019). It can be defined as an illegal act that violates humanity and human rights involving recruiting, transporting, and harboring people using force and means of deception, abduction, and power exploitation. Every year, millions of men, children, and women of all ages and backgrounds become victims of this evil (Farrell & de Vries, 2019). Human trafficking has become the fastest-growing global crime of all time in the United States, with over 35 states reporting at least three abductions to the National Corrections Reporting Program (NCRP). According to Cockbain & Bowers, 2019, approximately 1,500,000 people have trafficked annually, and almost 70,000 are trafficked in the United States, which has been ranked the largest destination for many victims of trafficking. Previous studies indicate that human trafficking primarily affects children and women. Hopper, 2019 reports that child trafficking accounts for approximately 27% of the human trafficking statistic, with most abducted for forced labor and sexual exploitation. Human trafficking comes in various forms, such as sex trafficking, labor exploitation, and illegal immigration trafficking (Cockbain & Bowers, 2019). Statistics indicate that sex trafficking is the most common exploitation, covering almost 61%. Among those forced into sexual exploitation, women and children are the most affected. Statistics show that Texas has reported the highest cases of trafficking, with increased deaths of victims of child trafficking (Cockbain & Bowers, 2019). The main objective of this paper is to provide a comprehensive summary of human trafficking and its adverse effects on society’s well-being.

Define the Problem

Human trafficking is considered a global social problem and the most shameful crime that has enormously affected millions worldwide, destroying their safe space (Shogunle, 2022). Human trafficking illegally generates over 35 million dollars per year. To most of society, human slavery is an aspect that happened ages ago. Still, it has developed deeper roots in the form of an ugly, inhumane financial market that robs people’s safety, purity, dignity, and security. Traffickers deceive many vulnerable people worldwide, coercing them into exploitative activities daily (Cockbain & Bowers, 2019). Others may ignore this issue of selling human beings, but many people are fighting to escape the crime, the trauma it has trapped people in, and the constant fear of being the next abduction victim (Shogunle, 2022). Human trafficking has existed for generations since slavery and holds a higher likelihood of continuing across multiple generations if no effective action is taken. Due to this, human trafficking has become a massive social issue as it continues to grow with no signs of ending any time soon.

Research Questions

The research questions will help identify the cause and implications of human trafficking, which will then help us identify solutions to this social issue. The research questions that will be considered in this research paper are:

  1. What are the root causal factors of human trafficking in the U.S?
  2. What impact does human trafficking have?


Although many researchers have studied extensively about human trafficking, there is still a knowledge gap that prevents us from fully understanding the prevalence of human trafficking and how we can successfully end this issue. This research study will identify the causes of human trafficking and how it physically and mentally impacts victims. This study’s independent and dependent variable is human trafficking and human well-being. Information for this study will be taken from 30 random college students, 20 policemen, and 50 random parents from three selected colleges located within North Carolina.

Literature Review

Human trafficking is the only market that has the same supply and demand aspect, which is human beings, humans demanding to sell or buy people (Shogunle, 2022). Human trafficking primarily stems from big issues in native nations, such as mass displacement, lack of employment, poverty, constant wars, religious persecution, and natural disasters. Poverty is the major cause of trafficking. Wealth and poverty are the major catalysts of trafficking and illegal migration (Pachankis, 2022). Potential victims are from extreme poverty, as many of them have great desires to obtain a better life for themselves and their families, making them extremely vulnerable to traffickers. A study by Pachankis, 2022 asserts that traffickers purposely target 65% of those suffering from poverty. Manipulative traffickers offer false hopes of employment, better lives, and education, but in reality, they do not follow through on any of these promises (Ikyernum, 2022). They instead force them to other jobs like prostitution, child labor, and hard labor, with little or no pay. According to Shogunle, 2022 approximately seven out of ten females and two in five children are in forced marriages or sold to pay debts. Due to a lack of sustainable means, parents often opt to sell their children or force them into arranged marriages (Meshelemiah & Lynch, 2019). Meshelemiah & Lynch, 2019 indicates that 12% of trafficking cases are due to debt. Reports show that 42% of traffickers coerce victims to work off their debt, with consequences such as death, rape, and violence. Pachankis, 2022 posits that victims can be held for over 18 months before escaping, being freed, or being killed.

Another cause of human trafficking is globalization which has increased living standards and economic growth. Regrettably, globalization is a double-edged poisonous sword shaping the global market for the recruitment and transportation of illegal migrants (Pachankis, 2022). It has greatly enabled criminal organizations to expand their network and helped them establish transnational routes that make it very easy to illegally transport and trade individuals (Kiss & Zimmerman, 2019). According to Ikyernum, 2022, one region commonly known to have high trafficking issues is Sub-Saharan Africa, which is known to have over 100,000 orphans and child-headed households, a situation that establishes fertile soils for criminal activities like trafficking and servitude. Additionally, areas affected by wars and conflict experience exploitation and are highly likely to be victims of trafficking. A study by Shogunle, 2022 indicates that the risk of human trafficking is highly connected to the high number of refugees fleeing war. Wars create a great desire to flee, and persecution is often taken advantage of by many traffickers. A study by Shogunle, 2022 also found that instability after a natural disaster makes many people vulnerable to trafficking, as many are displaced from their homes and separated from families and friends. Ikyernum, 2022 argues that many social norms in our society are damaging, massively contributing to trafficking. Traditional norms state gender roles have a close connection to child trafficking. Traditional male roles and patriarchal standards and beliefs promote toxic domination, objectification, a dangerous need for control, and oppression.

A study by Hopper, 2019 reports that human trafficking adversely impacts the victims and the people around them. Hopper & Gonzalez, 2018 posits that trafficking dehumanizes and objectifies the victim, which obscures the victim’s sense of power, security, dignity, and innocence. Trafficking causes mental trauma. Human trafficking victims often experience several negative psychological impacts during and after this evil crime (Hopper & Gonzalez, 2018). Many victims, after their trafficking, experience post-traumatic stress, anxiety, panic attacks, fear, shame, depression, and other devastating mental issues. Pachankis, 2022 found that many trafficking victims also undergo physical traumas. Victims often experience severe physical injuries from labor exploitation, sexual exploitation, and organ removal. Those sexually exploited are frequently exploited by their traffickers and customers and are often raped, beaten, and subjected to long periods of abuse (Hopper & Gonzalez, 2018). Sexually exploited victims also risk contracting STDs, deadly infections, and other illnesses. According to Hopper, 2019, victims often go long periods without medical care, which allows injuries to be infected, and infections to further spread and worsen. A study by Hopper & Gonzalez, 2018 shows that labor exploitation always puts victims in poor working conditions, for long hours, where they are exposed to deadly contaminants; as a result, they are subjected to health issues such as impairments, serious infection, and respiratory illnesses. Many victims do not feel confident or comfortable going out in public places or socializing due to fear of being abducted (Hopper & Gonzalez, 2018). Trafficking leaves people just as dead shells of their former selves and stripped bare of their will to live. Hopefully, the adverse effects of human trafficking will make populations sympathize and understand the victims, and as a society, we will fight to stop this crime (Kiss & Zimmerman, 2019).


The social theories associated with this research study are conflict theory and structural-functional theory. The conflict theory assumes that humans are very selfish and competitive creatures being coerced to fight over scarce materials and wealth (Williamson, 2019). Conflict theory believes socioeconomic inequality among people fuels human trafficking and violence. It explains why and how oppression occurs and how the powerful are able to take from the vulnerable in forceful and economical ways, just like human traffickers do. Fear and violence are the two main tools used to control the victims of trafficking (Williamson, 2019). The structural-functional theory focuses on structures in society and how they contribute to the stability and persistence of societies. The structural, functional theory believes that more unstable social areas have higher chances of being human trafficking targets (Williamson, 2019). People from poor and insecure, conflict-prone regions or regions prone to natural disasters have higher cases of trafficking and illegal migration than secure and well-off communities.

Research Methodology

This research will use quantitative study research methods. Data will be collected using cross-sectional questionnaire surveys to collect information from 100 participants around North Carolina. The questionnaires will ask a series of sixty questions in four sections. The first section will comprise ten general questions about age, gender, location, nationality, and transportation. The second section will have ten more questions about their knowledge of trafficking prevalence in their living area. The third section will ask 30 questions on the possible causes and impacts of human trafficking. The last section will contain ten questions about what they feel could be done differently in our society to stop human trafficking.


In conclusion, human trafficking has always been a massive social issue in our society, and it is important that, as a society, we come together and fight to stop this evil from further affecting our society. This research study provides a summary of the prevalence of human trafficking. It also provides the root causes of human traffickings, such as poverty, globalization, damaging social norms, mass displacement, and wars. Human trafficking leaves behind several effects on a victim’s well-being. Trafficking causes mental traumas such as anxiety, PSTD, depression, and fear. It also results in physical traumas such as serious infections, STDs, respiratory diseases, and many more.


Farrell, A., & de Vries, I. (2019). Measuring the nature and prevalence of human trafficking. The Palgrave International Handbook of Human Trafficking, 147–162.

Kiss, L., & Zimmerman, C. (2019). Human trafficking and labor exploitation: Toward identifying, implementing, and evaluating effective responses. PLOS Medicine16(1).

Pachankis, Y. (2022). Targeted human trafficking – the wars between proxy and surrogated economy. International Journal of Scientific & Engineering Research,13(07), 398-409. doi:10.14299/ijser.2022.07.07

Meshelemiah, J. C., & Lynch, R. E. (2019). Theories and Human Trafficking. The Cause and Consequence of Human Trafficking: Human Rights Violations.

Ikyernum, S. E. (2022). The root causes of human trafficking in West Africa and Nigeria in perspective. Handbook of Research on Present and Future Paradigms in Human Trafficking, 64-82. doi:10.4018/978-1-7998-9282-3.ch005

Shogunle, O. (2022). Tragedy and trajectories of human trafficking. Handbook of Research on Present and Future Paradigms in Human Trafficking, 103-118. doi:10.4018/978-1-7998-9282-3.ch007

Williamson, S. H. (2019). Toward an Integrated Theory of Human Trafficking: Unraveling the Role of Global Economic Policies in Shaping Macro-Level Conditions Cross-Nationally. North Carolina State University.

Hopper, E. K., & Gonzalez, L. D. (2018). A comparison of psychological symptoms in survivors of sex and labor trafficking. Behavioral Medicine,44(3), 177-188. doi:10.1080/08964289.2018.1432551

Hopper, E. K. (2019). Trauma-informed psychological assessment of Human Trafficking Survivors. A Feminist Perspective on Human Trafficking of Women and Girls, 6-24. doi:10.4324/9781315203904-2

Cockbain, E., & Bowers, K. (2019). Human trafficking for sex, labor, and domestic servitude: How do key trafficking types compare, and what are their predictors? Crime, Law and Social Change,72(1), 9-34. doi:10.1007/s10611-019-09836-7


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