Answering 19,427 Calls

Earlier this month, Polaris Project released an analysis of call data from the national human trafficking hotline with its 2011 Annual Report.

Here are a few stats:

  • 19,427 = the number of calls answered
  • 2,945 = the number of potential victims who were connected to services and support
  • 64% = the percentage the call volume increased over 2010
  • 10,000+ = the number of people who called the hotline, spanning every state and DC
  • 61% = the percentage increase of self-identifying victims calling the hotline over 2010

Who are the call specialists behind these statistics?

As long as I’m throwing out numbers, here’s one – 26 – the number of people who work with the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, the people who answered the 19,427 calls in 2011.

I sat down with one of these 26 people to gain insight into the heart and soul of this 24/7 operation. Vicky has worked on the hotline for two years and was in awe of the number of calls they received in 2011. The volume of calls has grown exponentially. People are becoming more aware of the issue, taking interest in getting involved, and the hotline number is getting in the hands of more people, she said.

As self-identifying victims increasingly call the hotline, Vicky says that call specialists on the hotline strive to create a safe space for potential victims to communicate their situation. Call specialists build trust with callers. This trust encourages callers to provide the most information possible so the hotline specialists can better assess their situation and connect them to services in their region.

The number of call specialists on the hotline during a particular shift varies. There can be anywhere from six to eight specialists during the peak of the day and typically two on the overnight shift. Vicky remembers that when she first started on the hotline, the overnight shift was one person.

“Thinking that I am the hotline at this particular time could be a little overwhelming,” said Vicky. Now that the volume of calls has increased, as well as staff, there are always a minimum of two people on any given shift.

Looking ahead to next year, Vicky hopes the number of calls will continue to increase, showing that more people are becoming familiar with the hotline number and are encouraged to use it as a resource. On the other hand, the ideal number of calls is 0 — representing 0 victims and the end of modern slavery. But before that can happen, the NHTRC will continue to staff the 24/7 confidential hotline, work to get the number in the hands of more people, and help to identify and support even more victims.

To get a sense of what it’s like working on the hotline, check out An Hour in the Life of a NHTRC Call Specialist.

If you need assistance or would like to report a tip of a potential human trafficking situation call the hotline: 1-888-3737-888.

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