Sex trafficking is not a fear for most people living in a suburban college town like State College. You would think sex trafficking only occurs in bigger cities and in movies, however not only is sex trafficking alive and well in places you’d least suspect, but traffickers are getting more creative in their tactics.
In the past, sex trafficking was easier to catch. It’s important to keep an eye out for obvious danger, such as large white vans with people in the trunk, but with new trafficking tactics, danger can be difficult to sense.
Human traffickers have gotten incredibly clever; even a seemingly innocent elderly woman seeking help crossing the street could be a potential sex trafficker. Unfortunately, trust is limited nowadays. There are so many possible scenarios that make for a dangerous situation.
The fear of sex trafficking is minimized while away at college, but it should not be brushed off completely. Even at Penn State, there have been signs of sex trafficking.
On Sept. 10, Penn State student Claudia Brown (TikTok user @claudiabrownn) made a video warning the Penn State community about a suspicious encounter with a woman knocking on her door for “car canvassing.”
According to Brown, the woman needed her help to win a new car and asked her to pick out her favorite color swatches to do so. In this encounter, the woman asked if she could enter Brown’s house to use her countertop. When Brown said no, she asked to sit on the stoop with her. The final straw of the encounter was when she asked for Brown’s last name, so the color order could be sent to her. This was when she asked her to leave.
Brown later realized that the woman was being followed by a red car when she looked back at a video she had taken.
Brown’s video is not the only TikTok circulating about sex trafficking. Many people have been sharing stories of themselves finding zip ties on their car or being followed by a suspicious vehicle while out on a run. These TikToks seem to take place in suburban areas, which is where many sex traffickers aim to find victims.
Sex trafficking is alive and well, even where you would least expect it. It is important to keep your guard up at all times. In order to prevent this from happening to you, always trust your gut.