Indicators of Trafficking

A victim of trafficking may look like many of the people you interact with every day. Here are a few indicators that a person may be a victim of trafficking:

  • New gifts (i.e. cell phone or jewelry-parents be sure to ask your children where these new items are coming from)
  • Unexplained bruises, injuries, tattoos, or burns
  • Few or no personal possessions
  • Lack of knowledge of their community or whereabouts
  • Not in control of own identification - not allowed to speak for themselves
  • Signs of undernourishment
  • Demeanor: fear, anxiety, depression, submissive, tense, nervous, mood changes often
  • Unpaid or paid very little, not in control of own money
  • Evidence of being controlled
  • Evidence of an inability to move or leave job
  • Recently brought to this country from Eastern Europe, Asia, Latin America, Canada, Africa or India
  • Lack of passport, immigration or identification documentation

Signs to look for in Students

  • Has unexplained absences from school for a period of time and/or episodes of running away.
  • Exhibits bruises or other physical trauma, withdrawn behaviors, depression or fear
  • Is hungry, malnourished or inappropriately dressed for the weather or surroundings
  • Has sudden changes in behavior, attire or material possessions (expensive items)
  • Makes references to sexual situations beyond age-specific norms
  • Starts hanging around a new crowd (Watch for "recruitment girls" who lure young or less experienced girls to their cliques)
  • Rumors are circulating that the student is "sleeping around"
  • Has a "boyfriend" who is significantly older


Trafficking Techniques

Traffickers use various techniques to keep victims enslaved. Some traffickers keep their victims under lock and key. However, the more frequent practice is to use less obvious techniques including:

  • Debt bondage – financial obligations, honor-bound to satisfy debt 
  • Isolation from the public – limiting contact with outsiders and making sure that any contact is monitored or superficial in nature 
  • Isolation from family members and members of their ethnic and religious community 
  • Confiscation of passports, visas and/or identification documents 
  • Use or threat of violence toward victims and/or families of victims 
  • The threat of shaming victims by exposing circumstances to family 
  • Telling victims they will be imprisoned or deported for immigration violations if they contact authorities
  • Control of the victims’ money, e.g., holding their money for “safe-keeping” 

The result of such techniques is to instill fear in victims. The victims’ isolation is further exacerbated because many do not speak English and are from countries where law enforcement is corrupt and feared.

Human Trafficking Facts 

  • The United Nations estimate that over 30 million people worldwide are trafficked for forced labor, sexual exploitation or organ harvesting.
  • According to some estimates, approximately 80% of trafficking involves sexual exploitation, and 19% involves labor exploitation.
  • Human trafficking and forced labor is a $150 billion crime worldwide
  • There are 600,000-800,000 victims that are trafficked across international borders each year. Of those numbers, 70% of the victims are female and 50% are children, the large majority forced into the commercial sex trade.                                       
  • The average victim trapped in the sex trade is forced to have sex 20 times a day.
  • More than 2/3 of sex trafficked children suffer additional abuse at the hands of their traffickers.                                                       
  • Trafficked children are significantly more likely to develop mental health problems, abuse substances, engage in prostitution as adults, and either commit or be victimized by violent crimes later in life. 
  • Trafficking victims normally don't get help because they think that they or their families will be hurt by their traffickers, or that they will be deported.
  • An estimated 14,500 to 17,500 foreign nationals are trafficked into the United States each year. The number of U.S. citizens trafficked within the country is even higher, with an estimated 100,000 American children being exploited in the commercial sex industry annually.  
  • An estimated 2.5 million children, the majority of them girls, are sexually exploited in the multi-billion dollar commercial sex industry.
  • In Asia's largest red-light district, there are three square kilometers crammed with an estimated 40,000 women earning at least $200 million a year in revenue for their traffickers. An estimated 95% of these women’s children become prostitutes.
  • In America, victims of pimp- controlled sex trafficking are commonly forced to meet quotas of $500 to $1,000 a night. 
  • Victims working a truck stop typically earn $5 - $100 per sex act. All earnings are confiscated by the pimp.                                         
  • 161 Countries are currently identified as affected by human trafficking: 127 countries of origin; 98 transit countries; 137 destination countries. (Note: Countries may be counted multiple times and categories are not mutually exclusive).
  • 20% of all human trafficking in the US comes through Texas at some point.
  • National human trafficking hotlines receives more calls from Texas than any other state in the US and 15% of those calls are from the Dallas- Fort Worth area.
  • There are an estimated 5000 brothels disguised as massage parlors in the U.S.Victims of sex trafficking within massage parlors are forced to have sex with 6 to 10 men a day.
  • The US Department of Justice Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section reports that age 12 is the average age of entry into pornography and prostitution in the U.S. 
  • An estimate 1 in 5 women will be a victim of rape or attempted rape in her lifetime.                    

*Sources: Polaris Project; UN Office on Drugs and Crime, Trafficking in Persons: Global Patterns: April 2006; Initiative against Sexual Trafficking; National Coalition Against Domestic Violence ; U.S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report: 2007; UN.Gift; United Nations; Kevin Bales of Free the Slaves; International Labor Organization; United States, Department of State; UNICEF; U.S Department of Justice Report to Congress from Attorney General John Ashcroft on U.S. Government Efforts to Combat Trafficking in Persons; Source: U.S. Department of State, The Facts About Child Sex Tourism: 2005. United States Department of Health and Human Services. The Administration for Children and Families.Rescue and Restore Campaign Tool Kits. 2012. Rescue and Restore Campaign Tool Kits. 2012. U.S. Department of Justice Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section.

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