Farrell, A., & Fahy, S. (2009). The problem of human trafficking in the U.S.: Public frames and policy responses. Journal of Criminal Justice, 37, 617–626. doi:10.1016/j.jcrimjus.2009.09.010

Nine years after the passage of federal anti-trafficking legislation in the United States, fewer incidents of trafficking have been identified than original estimates of the problem predicted. Some scholars and commentators suggest that changes in the public framing of the trafficking problem aimed at advancing particular agendas are to blame. Yet no studies to date had measured such a reframing process and its attendant consequences. Using a natural history of social problems model as the theoretical framework to examine the framing of trafficking, this study analyzed text from U.S. newspaper articles about human trafficking from 1990 to 2006. Findings suggest the public framing of human trafficking has changed over time corresponding with the adoption of policies focused on national security and the identification, apprehension, and criminal prosecution of trafficking perpetrators. Challenges following such definitional shifts are discussed.

Gulati, G.J. (2011). New frames and story triggers in the media’s coverage of human trafficking. Hum Rights Rev, 12, 363-379. doi 10.1007/s12142-010-0184-5

Since 2000, there has been a flurry of policy activity to address the problem of human trafficking. A wide consensus has formed in most of the international community on the nature of the problem. However, there is considerable disagreement among scholars and activists over definitions and how best to address the problem. A content analysis of relevant articles in The New York Times and Washington Post between 1980 and 2006 reveals that media coverage has relied mostly on official sources and is framed in a way that has mirrored the dominant view of trafficking. This has helped legitimize the consensus among policymakers while marginalizing alternative views that also might be critical of official policy. This analysis also shows that articles initiated by investigative journalists are more likely to break away from the official frame and report alternative views than articles generated from traditional news beats.

Lange, A. (2011). Research note: challenges of identifying female human trafficking victims using a national 1-800 call center. Trends in Organized Crime, 14, 47-55. doi 10.1007/s12117-010-9107-8

Human trafficking is a complex global and national crime problem harming victims physically, psychologically, and financially. The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA), Pub. La 106–386, and subsequent reauthorizations, provide assistance and benefits to foreign born victims of labor or sexual human trafficking who are here in the United States. The strategies used to encourage victims to come forward were modeled on those used in the antidomestic violence (DV) and child protection movements. These include initiatives alerting the public to domestic violence situations through awareness campaigns to increase tips as well as calls for service to police. Other public service initiatives urge victims themselves to self-identify by calling 1-800 numbers. While these techniques have shown success in reducing incidences of domestic violence and providing help to victims, their use to combat sex trafficking has not produced the same level of results. This note explores the challenges for immigrant women victims to self-identify as trafficking victims and urges that evidence-based research is needed to determine the efficacy of a national call center approach.

Matheson, C. M., & Finkel, R. (2012). Sex trafficking and the Vancouver Winter Olympic Games: Perceptions and preventative measures. Tourism Management, 1-16. Retrieved from

Considerable attention has been paid to sex tourism and this paper focuses upon an under-researched area: sex trafficking and sporting mega-events. Drawing upon qualitative research undertaken prior to the Vancouver Games, this paper aims both to examine stakeholder perceptions of the potential linkages between sex trafficking and the event, and to evaluate the preventative trafficking measures as they relate to the event. There is a continuum of perceptions regarding sex trafficking and the event: the Games can be a catalyst for trafficking; it is an uncertain risk; and, the Games are not a potential catalyst for trafficking. In terms of specific preventative measures, it is suggested that strategic planning lacked a centralized approach and there was a gap in the provision of awareness campaigns. Third sector groups led awareness campaigns which were criticized for being sensationalist and unrepresentative and, in addition, tensions in stakeholder relationships impinged upon a constructive partnership.

Reid, J. A. (2012). Exploratory review of route-specific, gendered, and age-graded dynamics of exploitation: Applying life course theory to victimization in sex trafficking in North America. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 17, 257-271.

The status of research on human trafficking has been characterized as methodologically inadequate and lacking sufficient theoretical framework necessary for solution development. This review of sex trafficking in North America examined prior research regarding victim vulnerabilities through the theoretical lens of life course theory endeavoring to uncover life course dynamics resulting in exploitation in sex trafficking distinguishable by victim type. Shared and distinct life course dynamics emerged based on victim origin and route, gender, and age of onset that corresponded to the key components of Sampson and Laub’s age-graded theory of informal social control. Indicators of harmful informal social control processes during childhood and adolescence were common across internationally and domestically trafficked boys and girls, with a desire for acceptance and love commonly exacerbating initial entrapment. Limited social capital typified victims experiencing initial exploitation during young adulthood, with internationally trafficked victims uniquely isolated due to citizenship status and language or cultural barriers. Through the application of life course theory, a more complete understanding of the dynamics affecting vulnerability to exploitation in sex trafficking can be gained, providing enhanced information regarding plausible strategies for prevention and intervention.

Shigekane, R. (2007). Rehabilitation and community integration of trafficking survivors in the united states. Human Rights Quarterly, 29(1), 112-136. Retrieved from

Little has been reported on how survivors of trafficking integrate into new communities and what types of rehabilitation services and programs they may need to live independently and self-sufficiently. The release of federal funds under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 to assist certain survivors of trafficking has spurred the rapid and eclectic development of advocacy programs and services. This article explores the needs of survivors of trafficking, the variety of services and advocacy programs that are devel oping to assist them, and the complex reactions of immigrant communities to incidents of trafficking.

Wooditch, A.C., DuPont-Morales, M.A., & Hummer, D. (2009). Traffick jam: a policy review of the United Statestrafficking victims protection act of 2000. Trends in Organized Crime, 12, 235-250. doi 10.1007/s12117-009-9069-x

The United States enacted the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) of 2000 to combat organized networks specializing in the illicit transport of human beings across political and geographical boundaries. This response has engendered conflicting definitions and competing agendas attributable to the definition set forth by the TVPA, which divides the crime into ‘sex’ verses ‘labor’ trafficking. The European Union (EU) adopted a different and detailed definition introduced by the United Nations. This paper explores the disparity in anti-trafficking policies of the United States and the EU. By contrasting these efforts, recommendations to strengthen U.S. policy by adapting certain EU practices to an American context are suggested.


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