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Stopping Human Trafficking

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"Every 30 seconds, someone becomes

a victim of human trafficking." 

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What’s happening?

It includes both sex trafficking and forced labor. Youth with difficult family situations or histories of trauma including those in foster care can be of greater risk. Minor exchanging sex for anything of value like food, shelter, money or protection is considered a victim of sex trafficking even if they are not forced or coerced.

  • Prostitution

  • Stripping

  • Pornography

  • Selling illegal drugs

  • Begging

  • Door-to-door sales

  • Restaurant Work

  • Hair and nail salons

  • Farm work

  • Au Pairs and Nannies

  • Domestic Work

What you might be seeing?

Cases of human trafficking have been reported in all 50 States. Victims can be children or adults, U.S. citizens or foreign nationals, male or female. Children as young as 9 years old may be at risk. Signs that a child or youth may be involved in human trafficking include the following:

  • Sudden changes in clothes, friends, or access to money

  • Having a “boyfriend” or “girlfriend” who is noticeably older and/or controlling

  •  Expressing concern for family members’ safety if he or she shares too much information

  •  Working unusually long hours and being paid very little

  • Living at a workplace or with the employer, or living with many people in a small space

  •  Frequent, unexplained absences from school

  •  Running away from home

  •  Unexplained bruises or scars, withdrawn behavior, or anxiety/fear

  •  Knowledge of sexual situations or terms beyond what is normal for the child’s age

  •  Signs of drug addiction

National Human Trafficking Hotline
Survivor Support
Project Intersect

What you can do?

  • Be aware of recruiting tactics Traffickers target victims through social media websites, telephone chat lines, afterschool programs, at shopping malls and bus depots, in clubs, or through friends and acquaintances.

  • Social media- be aware of the apps that teens use and how they work. Check privacy settings and have a conversation about what safe use of social media means for them. 

  • Start the conversation early- teaching children from a young age how to say no, get away and tell someone; are tools that can reduce vulnerability to exploitation in the future.

  • Ask questions—especially about new friends and those who appear to be significantly older. Are friends involved in "the life"? Do they hang out near areas known for sex work?

  • Acceptance- LGBTQ youth that are rejected by their families are at increased risk of homelessness and vulnerable to exploitation. Acceptance is a form of prevention. 

  • Understand that trafficked youth are victims, not criminals. If a person has been forced to commit illegal acts, he or she is a victim and is not guilty of a crime. Help the youth understand that he or she will not be punished for seeking help.

  • Be informed about trauma- children that have been exploited may present with symptoms of trauma such as always being on their guard (hypervigilance), nightmares or moments of reliving a scene from the situation (flashbacks), or act out. Siblings especially younger siblings can be affected and have similar symptoms because of what their sibling has gone through (vicarious trauma).

  • Report suspected trafficking. If you think a youth may be involved in trafficking:  If the youth is in immediate danger, call (800) 856-5553.