In Our Backyard: Human Trafficking in America and What We Can Do to Stop It

by Nita Belles

Reviewed by Eileen Quinn Knight, Ph.D.



This book is an important resource to help regular citizens understand what human trafficking is, how to recognize it, and what to do if they see it. Human trafficking is, how to recognize it and what to do if they see it. Human trafficking exists in every state and nearly every city. If you look hard enough, you’ll even find it in our nation’s small towns and in the countryside. In short, it’s in our backyard. And we can all help stop this atrocity.


The author hopes that this book will help save some child, some young woman, some young man, as it encourages all of us to love as we would want to be loved in this fight against human trafficking and beyond. This book is not intended to be an all-inclusive look at modern slavery in the United States, but rather a sampling to inspire you to uncover more truths about this outrage for yourself.


As always, people love statistics. It seems that we have a great deal on this topic: there are 27 million slaves in the world today, more slaves than during the trans-Atlantic slave trade; human trafficking is tied with arms dealing as the second largest criminal enterprise and is the fastest growing; about 80%of all trafficked individuals are female; about 50% are children; 70% of those female victims are trafficked for sexual exploitation. Each year between 14,500 and 17,500 people are trafficked into the United States from other countries. Nationally about 450,000 children run away from home each year. One out of every three teens on the street will be lured toward sex trafficking each year. The average age of sex trafficking is 12-14 for girls and 11-13 for boys. Admittedly, these numbers are guestimates based on the best data available today.


Some who are reading this book have possibly struggled with pornography. As the reader knows this affects nearly everyone on one level or another. Belles gives us some excellent resources to combat the addiction. She gives us some general sources and help for pornography concerns. There are also religious based programs and some filtering and accountability software. Using the internet to recruit victims as well as to connect sex buyers with sex, a huge and fast-growing method for the “marketing” of victims provides consumers of sex with anonymity as well as relatively easy access to nearly anything sexual that could be desired. “The Internet serves as a virtual clearinghouse, a sex bazaar connecting demand and supply” wrote one observer.


It is about putting action behind the emotions and the talk. The trucking industry and TAT have done just that. TAT began to see changes in the trucking industry’s culture around the issue of trafficking and prostitution. What originally seemed like an audacious mission has made a huge difference. TAT and truckers are making it difficult to be a trafficker in places that traffickers once viewed as lucrative. The wonderfully daring group of courageous and hardworking women has made a huge difference by making trafficking at trick stops much more difficult for perpetrators. Indeed, they are heroes in the anti-trafficking movement, and TAT’s work is a shining example of engaging an industry as a partner in this fight against human trafficking.


Each chapter has excellent questions for deliberation and discussion. It is not only a great resource book but it is also a way to transform the issues that are pointed out very clearly in this book so we create a society that has a respectful way of treating others.