Here’s a quick post on human trafficking (HT). As many of you know I sit on the board of one of the leading HT organizations in Alberta, which means I’ve been around this topic for a number of years.

I’ve noticed big hearted people posting trafficking related links with sensational headlining, particularly around major sporting events like the recent Super Bowl (in Calgary there’s now a push to address the Calgary Stampede).

But there’s a problem. Sensationalization of the trafficking problem detracts from guiding proper response. It’s a highly emotive issue, which is why people can generate an opinion quickly, but if your opinions are founded on incomplete data you’re not helping. Articles like this one don’t help.

Actually, Relevant Magazine, rational people ARE questioning the fallacious claims that the Super Bowl is the highest human trafficking event of the year (mostly because the assertion came from a reporter doing bad reporting). Those people questioning are usually the ones connected to the real problem, not armchair activists learning from news reports.

When you read anything on the net you have to ask yourself ONE question EVERY single time, “is it true?”

In 2017, a police sting that ended on Super Bowl Sunday is making the rounds on social media. The connection: Super Bowl=increase in human trafficking. From there someone can jump to the conclusion that all major sporting events = increase in human trafficking.

I wasn’t behind the scenes, but merely perusing the newswire, the FBI sting wasn’t related to the Super Bowl, it just ended on that Sunday (on purpose for the headlines I’m sure), and it was a nationwide sting. Stings were conducted in Houston, but it was predominantly on johns (which brings up another discussion on whether these types of stings actually work).

We know, trafficking exists, yes it’s terrible, but we need to constantly rely on accurate information. People need to be willing to spend time researching what’s true and what’s clickbait. This effort will help address the trafficking problem over the long run.

When it comes to major sporting events, none of the claims have been proven. In fact, some data shows the opposite, trafficking DECREASES (think the Olympics). If you don’t believe me, just ask your local vice squad how many arrests they make for trafficking during these events. Go one step further and figure out how many conviction are made for trafficking anywhere in the Western world for major sporting events. The answer is around zero (I say ‘around’ zero because I don’t have data for every event, if you have some do comment). Police will say they really see human trafficking during major events. Increase in sex services yes, human trafficking no (and yes I know those two are exceptionally grey and the former can indicate the latter).

And for local readers, trafficking doesn’t increase at the Calgary Stampede. That claim was put forward by an organization with a political agenda and who never backed the claim with evidence. Now sex services do….but that’s a different topic for a different day.