Back to News Americans Associate “Human Trafficking” with Sex Slavery and Think It Is Not Accurately Covered

Americans Associate “Human Trafficking” with Sex Slavery and Think It Is Not Accurately Covered


The Fishlinger Center for Public Policy Research at the College of Mount Saint Vincent seeks to foster meaningful dialog on key public policy issues through independent, objective public opinion research. This survey focuses on social issues in the United States.

Graphic featuring words including "slavery, slaves, kidnapping"

Interestingly, when asked to describe “human trafficking” to a friend, most people’s explanations center on sex slavery. There are virtually no references to other types of indentured servitude for domestic help or manual labor.

Part of this may be related to the perceived lack of coverage of “human trafficking” as an issue. Fewer than a third of the people feel the issue is accurately covered and well over half think it is under covered. Only 12% believe the coverage is exaggerated.

Graphic titled: "Coverage of Human Trafficking"

The data suggest that the complexities of this issue are not well understood and that its coverage is far from adequate.

Survey Methodology
The Fishlinger Center conducts online national surveys focusing on political issues in the United States. The fieldwork for the polls is conducted using a blended national panel from Survey Sampling Inc. Interviews were conducted November 1-December 15, 2017. The credibility interval for a sample of 1,000 is plus or minus three percentage points. The credibility interval is larger for subgroups and for differences between polls.

In addition to credibility interval, the polls are subject to other potential sources of error including, but not limited to coverage and measurement error. Data were rim weighted to match the national population on age, sex, Hispanic origin and race. Question wording and topline results are available at

About the Fishlinger Center for Public Policy
The Fishlinger Center for Public Policy Research opened in February 2015 at the College of Mount Saint Vincent. The Center conducts deep and broad studies of public opinion on key public policy concerns through independent and objective research conducted by students, faculty, and other members of the academic community.

By providing a forum for discourse that can stimulate intelligent dialog about issues that deeply affect all Americans, the Center illustrates and enhances the relationship between the work of the College and the common good.

James F. Donius, Ph.D., director of the Fishlinger Center for Public Policy Research at the College of Mount Saint Vincent, is available to speak to members of the press about the survey, the Fishlinger Optimism Index™, and the Center. To arrange an interview, or for more information about the study, please contact Public Relations at

About the College of Mount Saint Vincent
Founded in 1847 by the Sisters of Charity, the College of Mount Saint Vincent offers nationally recognized liberal arts education and a select array of professional fields of study on a landmark campus overlooking the Hudson River. Committed to the education of the whole person, and enriched by the unparalleled cultural, educational, and career opportunities of New York City, the College equips students with the knowledge, skills, and experiences necessary for lives of achievement, professional accomplishment and leadership in the 21st century.