The Super Bowl, one of the largest sporting events in the world, is quickly approaching, and this year, it will take place at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. While the excitement builds for this highly anticipated event, addressing a darker side of the occasion is important: human trafficking.
Human trafficking is a pervasive and devastating crime that affects millions of people globally, including in the United States. During large events such as the Super Bowl, trafficking tends to increase as individuals are drawn to the area for its lucrative business opportunities. According to police in Glendale, AZ, approximately 5% of men have or will purchase services from sex workers. This figure will increase with the arrival of Super Bowl LVII in a few days.
Traffickers and exploiters exploit the influx of people to take advantage of vulnerable individuals, including minors, for commercial sex acts and labor. It is a horrifying reality that must not be ignored. It’s A Penalty, one of the organizations working with the Glendale Super Bowl organizing committee has released the following statistics as part of their 6th Super Bowl campaign.
- 1 in 5 homeless youth has experienced some form of trafficking. (Study at Covenant House New York)
- 90% of children trafficked in the United States are U.S. citizens. (Source: U.S. Department of Justice 2021)
- The Polaris National Human Hotline has identified Arizona as the eighteenth highest State for Human Trafficking in 2022.
Human trafficking organizations have called on the NFL, the City of Glendale, law enforcement agencies, and all stakeholders to take action to prevent human trafficking during this Super Bowl and beyond.
Here are a few ways this has been done:
- Raise Awareness: As at other Super Bowls, Glendale has partnered with anti-trafficking organizations like It’s A Penalty to raise awareness and educate the public about the warning signs of trafficking.
- Enhance Law Enforcement Efforts: Law enforcement agencies have increased their efforts to detect and disrupt trafficking operations and hold traffickers accountable for their crimes. “We will be working with other teams to do operations leading up to the Super Bowl, and then we have response team plans on the day of the game to respond to reports of human trafficking in progress,” Glendale Police Sgt. Aaron Victor said.
- Establish a Reporting Hotline: In Arizona, 9-1-1 is the established hotline for reporting suspected trafficking cases to increase the chances of rescue for victims. You can learn more about this at Human Trafficking: Arizona
- Train Hotel Staff: Hotel staff have been trained to recognize the signs of trafficking and how to report it to the authorities.
- Foster Stakeholder Collaboration: NGOs, government agencies, and businesses are working together to address the issue and support victims.
We cannot ignore the fact that human trafficking is still a real and pressing problem, and we must continuously take action to address it. The Super Bowl is a unique opportunity to bring attention to this issue and work towards a solution. Thanks to all, particularly It’s a Penalty, who are working to make this year’s Super Bowl in Glendale, AZ one that is remembered for the right reasons.
During the Super Bowl and WM Phoenix Open events, a police operation was conducted in Arizona targeting human trafficking and sex crimes. Over 100 law enforcement officers from state, local and federal agencies worked to address the issue of human trafficking. The operation resulted in nearly 350 arrests, including alleged sex buyers, and the recovery of five juveniles and one adult victim. Police also seized seven guns during the operation.