As National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month comes to a close, we want to address how youth are impacted by this issue that exists in every community across the nation. Individuals from all backgrounds are trafficked, but youth are at an increased risk to sex and labor trafficking. This can be due to the fact that they are in the early stages of development where they are more easily able to be deceived, manipulated, forced, or coerced. Unfortunately, runaway and homeless youth are at even more vulnerable to human trafficking.
A recent study from University of Pennsylvania and Loyola University found that one-fifth of the homeless youth they were interviewing were victims of human trafficking. Some of the reasons for this can be due to the fact that when youth are on the street they lack funds, interpersonal and job skills, and support systems. There are other risk factors in addition to youth experiencing homelessness. Data has shown there to be a strong correlation between childhood sexual abuse, chronic maltreatment and neglect, and unstable home environments in relation to youth trafficking victims. Evidence has also shown that LGBTQ youth are more susceptible to trafficking.
How to Help
Since human trafficking often starts with recruitment, it’s important to be able to recognize the signs. ITHasToStop has created a list of potential warning signs of youth who may be getting trafficked.
Some examples are:
* Has injuries or other signs of abuse and is reluctant to explain them.
* Has an unexplained, sudden increase in money, clothing, or possessions like jewelry without explanation.
* Has a prepaid cell phone.
* Talks about an older boyfriend or sex with an older man.
* Has inconsistencies in their story.
Lack of Control
* Seems scripted in the way they speak.
* Accompanied by someone who seems to control their every move.
If you or someone you know is in crisis and may be experiencing trafficking, please contact the Human Trafficking Hotline:
o By phone: 1-888-373-7888 o By email: firstname.lastname@example.org
o By text: text HELP to 233733 (BEFREE) o Online chat: www.humantraffickinghotline.org
The National Runaway Safeline is also here to support youth survivors on our 1-800-786-2929 hotline and online services (live chat, e-mail, forum) where we have a database of resources throughout the United States and territories.