The 2014 Super Bowl is set to be held at MetLife Stadium in the state of New Jersey in just over two weeks. Since the announcement of the venue there has been an increased focus on the amount of sex trafficking that occurs before and during large events, especially sporting events like the Super Bowl. Many New Jersey politicians have worked to pass new laws in the state that lead to harsher penalties for traffickers while lessening the punishment for victims. The take is that this will encourage people being trafficked to come forward. The state of New Jersey should be commended for its increased efforts to put an end to the despicable crime that is human trafficking. However, the state’s reasons for the sudden peak in policy making are wrong. Governor Christie and several Representatives and Senators from the state have said that their reason for the increased attention going to human trafficking is the expected increase in human trafficking as a result of the Super Bowl. There is no unbiased evidence that suggests that this “fact” is true.
With that being said, the effort to decrease, and eventually put a complete end to, human trafficking is a noble cause. There have been several articles posted about the increased effort to educate people in the communities that surround the host stadium. This is a very smart and well thought out idea but the efforts should not only focus on the workers and residents of New Jersey. Why not educate the potential human trafficking detectors that are all of the residents of the United States? Granted, this task would demand an extremely large amount of capital but if experts believe they can educate the people of New Jersey enough to spot human trafficking, it should be expanded to the rest of the country. The victims of trafficking all over the country, and the world, deserve to be helped just as much as those that happen to be at the Super Bowl in the coming weeks.
The efforts in New Jersey include educating taxi drivers, hotel workers, police officers, and high school students. Anti-trafficking groups are working on distributing emergency hot line phone numbers to hotels and public restrooms in the hopes of reaching some victims. With all of this extra planning and training it is likely that there will be a spike in arrests involving human trafficking leading up to and during the Super Bowl. However, when this data is analyzed, it must be taken into account that this does not necessarily mean that there was a significant increase in human trafficking during the event but only means that there was an increase in arrest which may be attributed to increased vigilance.
In the coming months and years all states and countries should follow in New Jersey’s steps by making an effort to educate their residents about the signs of human trafficking. However, it would be unwise to hold off on anti-trafficking efforts until a large event is scheduled – instead, efforts to increase awareness should be undertaken immediately.