Identifying Child Victims of Human Trafficking

As educators, parents, and adults working with children, it is important to look for signs of child slavery with the kids we work with on a daily basis.  Do you know what to look for?   Here is a list of things to look for:

  • Children who are  hungry often, malnourished (not reaching full height, underweight, etc.), or have poorly formed or rotted teeth.
  • Not attending school or attends sporadically or has a significant gap of schooling.
  • Signs of physical abuse (bruising, scars, constant broken bones), and cannot explain injuries.  Also, abuse so extensive that it causes headaches, hearing loss, heart and breathing problems, chronic vision problems, back problems, and limb amputation.
  • Signs of sexual abuse through untreated sexually transmitted diseases, HIV/AIDS, kidney problems, urinary tract infections.
  • Signs of psychological abuse: fearfulness, submissive, helplessness, humiliation, shame, disorientation and confusion. 
  • Signs of anxiety disorders: post traumatic stress disorder, panic attacks and depression.

Keep in mind ANY significant changes in a child with the above items as an indicator can be a red flag.

If you suspect anyone is a victim of human trafficking and they know you well and has gained a trust in you, ask the child some of these questions:

  • Can you come and go as you please?
  • Has anyone ever touched you or hurt you?
  • Where do you sleep or eat?
  • Do you have to ask permission to eat, sleep, or go to the bathroom?
  • What are your living conditions like?
  • Is there  lock on your door where you cannot get out?
  • Have you or your family been threatened?
  • Are you allowed to do after school activities or go to religious services?
  • Do you work at a job after school?  How much do you work?  Are you allowed to quit? 

Keep in mind that a child (under the age of 18) who is a constant runaway, works on a migrant farm, helps a parent as a domestic servant, or is mistaken as a prostitute may be a victim of human trafficking.  If you suspect any child who is a victim, please contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888. 

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