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Human Trafficking

"Few crimes are more abhorrent than child trafficking, and few crimes are more challenging for communities to recognize and address. For many people, the reality of trafficking in their community is difficult to comprehend, let alone confront. For educators and school personnel, the reality of these crimes and the severity of their impact are cause for a call to action."


Understanding the Issue

Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery where people profit from the control and exploitation of others. Although slavery is commonly thought to be a thing of the past, human trafficking still exists today throughout the United States and globally. Human trafficking is the use of force fraud, or coercion to control a person for the purpose of engaging in commercial sex acts or labor services against his/her will. 

National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC)

• Call 24/7: 1-888-373-7888 (Call 911 in an emergency)

• Text: BeFree (233733)

• Email:

• Report a Tip Online or Access Resources and Referrals:

  • Do traffickers target children?
    Yes. Sex traffickers target children because of their vulnerability and gullibility, as well as the market demand for young victims. Those who recruit minors into prostitution violate federal anti-trafficking laws, even if there is no coercion or movement across state lines. The children at risk are not just high school students—studies demonstrate that pimps prey on victims as young as 12. Traffickers have been reported targeting their minor victims through telephone chat-lines, clubs, on the street, through friends, and at malls, as well as using girls to recruit other girls at schools and after-school programs.
  • What happens to victims who are trafficked?
    Traffickers use violence, threats, blackmail, false promises, deception, manipulation and debt bondage to trap vulnerable individuals in situations of commercial sex or labor for profit. Sex trafficking has been found in a wide variety of venues within the sex industry, including residential brothels, online escort services, fake massage businesses, strip clubs and street prostitution. Labor trafficking has been found in diverse labor settings including domestic work, small businesses, large farms and factories.
  • Who are the victims of human trafficking?
    The International Labor Organization estimates that there are 20.9 million victims of human trafficking globally, with hundreds of thousands in the U.S. The victims of this crime in the U.S. are men and women, adults and children, and foreign nationals and U.S. citizens. Victims have diverse socio-economic backgrounds, varied levels of education, and may be documented or undocumented, but what is common is their vulnerability. As defined under U.S. law, victims of human trafficking can be divided into three populations:
    • Children under age 18 induced into commercial sex.
    • Adults age 18 or over induced into commercial sex through force, fraud, or coercion.
    • Children and adults induced to perform labor or services through force, fraud, or coercion.
  • How can I identify a human trafficking victim?
    A victim:
    • Has unexplained absences from school for a period of time, and is therefore a truant
    • Demonstrates an inability to attend school on a regular basis
    • Chronically runs away from home
    • Makes references to frequent travel to other cities
    • Exhibits bruises or other physical trauma, withdrawn behavior, depression, or fear
    • Lacks control over her or his schedule or identification documents
    • Is hungry-malnourished or inappropriately dressed (based on weather conditions or surroundings)
    • Shows signs of drug addiction
    Additional signs that may indicate sex-related trafficking include:
    • Demonstrates a sudden change in attire, behavior, or material possessions (e.g., has expensive items)
    • Makes references to sexual situations that are beyond age-specific norms
    • Has a “boyfriend” who is noticeably older (10+ years)
    • Makes references to terminology of the commercial sex industry that are beyond age specific norms; engages in promiscuous behavior and may be labeled “fast” by peers

      Source: U.S. Department of Education