No evidence that the Super Bowl is the largest sex trafficking event in the world

Advocacy groups emphasize that human trafficking is a multi-faceted issue that poses a problem every day of the year.

Each year, diverse groups of local officials, organizations, NFL officials, and law enforcement band together to fight human trafficking—especially sex trafficking—before and during the Super Bowl. This year, efforts for Super Bowl LVII in Phoenix will be spearheaded by the “It’s a penalty.” Campaign. It launched on January 23rd with several NFL stars in support and will continue through the end of February.

These campaigns raise awareness of human trafficking in the local community in the Super Bowl host city to identify victims and are often part of larger efforts by anti-trafficking organizations to spread broader awareness of human trafficking.

Many people pay special attention to this effort because they have long believed that the Super Bowl is the best largest human trafficking event in the world. As a matter of fact, “Super Bowl sex trade‘ was a breakout search on Google for the past month.


Is there evidence that the Super Bowl is the biggest sex trafficking event in the world?



That's wrong.

No, there is no evidence that the Super Bowl is the world’s largest sex trafficking event.


Freedom Network USA And Survive and Thrive Advocacy Centertwo groups that support victims and survivors of human trafficking, and Polaris, an organization that operates the National Human Trafficking Hotline, all say there is no evidence the Super Bowl is the biggest sex trafficking event in the world.

“Human trafficking isn’t just a problem on the night of the Super Bowl, it’s a problem 365 days a year,” a Polaris spokesman said in an email. “There is little data to suggest a significant increase in sex trafficking on the night of the Super Bowl. The National Human Trafficking Hotline has not seen a measurable increase in phone calls over the Super Bowl weekend compared to what is already being received on a daily basis, and any small increase in calls is more likely to be attributed to greater awareness of human trafficking in the game. ”

The 2016 San Francisco Task Force Anti-Trafficking in Persons explained in its report that although the city used the Super Bowl that year as an opportunity to reach out to the community year-round to combat human trafficking, “there is no definitive data linking the Super Bowl with the… increasing human trafficking regions where the game takes place.”

Some anti-trafficking organizations say human trafficking is increasing around the Super Bowl, but agree that the Super Bowl is not the biggest sex trafficking event in the world. In our backyarda survivor-led anti-human trafficking organization, concluded in a report on the 2022 Super Bowl.

wrote in Our Backyard. “The truth is human trafficking occurs 365 days a year across the United States and increases as demand increases due to conventions, sporting and entertainment events that attract predominantly male populations with disposable incomes.” But the organization also noted that claims that the Super Bowl was the biggest human trafficking event of the year are “myths.”

A Videos 2018 from the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) emphasized that sex trafficking, and more broadly human trafficking, is a year-round problem. In the video, a program manager for a youth sexual exploitation initiative in Hennepin County, where the Minneapolis Super Bowl was being played that year, said the county’s research found a “slight increase” in online advertising used by traffickers, but no more than at other major events.

A Blog post 2016 by Polaris — dubbed “The Super Bowl Myth” — explained that while traffickers go where the demand is, they also change their tactics depending on where law enforcement is focusing their efforts. Given the association with human trafficking that people associate with the Super Bowl, law enforcement agencies tend to devote more resources to combating human trafficking before and during the game, Polaris said.

Freedom Network USA adds that these local human trafficking awareness campaigns surrounding the Super Bowl have not had any lasting impact in reducing human trafficking in the area. Because of this, many organizations and government agencies emphasize that human trafficking occurs every day across the country, not just at major events.

“What the Trafficking Hotline data shows, however, is that sex and labor trafficking is a problem in every state, every day of the year, and cities and communities across the country need long-term solutions to address this crime every day of the year responding, not just around the Super Bowl,” the Polaris spokesperson continued in his earlier statement.

According to Freedom Network USA, the annual focus on sex trafficking also ignores and minimizes labor trafficking, which is another common method of human trafficking. in one Blog post 2019Polaris estimates that 16 million of the 25 million people who are victims of human trafficking worldwide are victims of labor trafficking.

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Laura Coffey

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