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April 21st

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Protecting Youth from Human Trafficking


The following information and tip sheet were summarized from a chapter in the 2016 Prevention Resource Guide.*
In a nutshell, human trafficking is a form of modern slavery and includes both sex trafficking and forced labor. Victims can be children (as young as nine years old) or adults, U.S. citizens or foreign nationals and male or female. Cases of human trafficking have been reported in all 50 states.

Youth with difficult family situations or histories of trauma – including those who have been in foster care – are potentially at a greater risk for involvement in:

  • prostitution, stripping and pornography
  • forced labor including selling illegal drugs and/or panhandling
  • forced employment including restaurants, hair and nail salons and as nannies or domestic workers

Signs that a youth may be involved in human trafficking:

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  • Unexplained bruises or scars, withdrawn behavior or anxiety/fear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

What Can You Do?

  • Be aware of recruiting tactics. Traffickers target victims through social media websites, telephone chat lines, at shopping malls and bus depots, in clubs or through friends and acquaintances. Ask questions about new friends and those who appear to be significantly older. Parents should monitor computer use and know where he or she hangs out.
  • Understand that trafficked youth are victims who’ve been forced to commit illegal acts; they are not criminals. Help the youth understand that he or she will not be punished for seeking help.
  • Call 9-1-1. If you suspect a youth is in immediate danger.

Where to report suspected Human Trafficking

  • Call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 888.373.7888, text BeFree (233733) or submit a tip online at
  • To report a sexually exploited or abused minor, call the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children at 1.800.THE.LOST or report online at

A haven for trafficking victims is in progress and under construction in Central Texas – read about plans for The Refuge for DMST (Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking).d

*Download the tip sheet –



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