January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month.
According to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, one in six endangered runaways in the United States are likely to become a victim of human trafficking.
The signs of human trafficking are usually so inconspicuous that we often don’t notice them.
Take a moment to familiarize yourself with some of the key indicators of child exploitation. Your knowledge could save a life.
Red Flags of Exploitation
• Look for younger individuals. Those most vulnerable to human trafficking are young adults, ages 10-21, who come from tumultuous homes. Often, exploitation occurs after teens attempt to flee an already-difficult domestic situation.
• If in close contact with a potential victim, look for physical marks. Abuse often shows itself in the forms of injuries like cuts, bruises, or burns. Malnourishment or neglect of pre-existing health issues can also be signs of trafficking.
• Watch for conversational signs. If you engage in a brief dialogue with someone you believe to be the victim of human trafficking look for: failure to make eye contact, fear, anxiety, nervousness, or potential evidence of an addiction. Notice if the individual appears to be living out of a vehicle or suitcase.
Report What You Observe
If you believe that you have crossed paths with someone who is being exploited, contact your local law enforcement agency immediately.
If you see something, say something. Your words could make all the difference.
For additional information on the prevention and combatting of human trafficking and domestic exploitation, please visit the Department of Defense’s resource toolkit.