Straight talk - Human trafficking in the United States is everywhere. If you think it can't happen in your area or to a child in your life, then you are already at a big disadvantage especially if that child has access to a smartphone.
I sorted through all the information and training, and wanted to share some valuable ways you can be involved in the fight against human trafficking.
The more people that know how to identify human trafficking, the safer our children will be. It's like an army of protectors.
These may be signs of Human Trafficking:
This information is from Shared Hope.
Signs of physical abuse such as burn marks, bruises or cuts
Unexplained absences from school, truancy
Less appropriately dressed than before
Overly tired or falls asleep in class
Withdrawn, depressed, or distracted
Brags about making or having lots of money
Displays expensive clothes, accessories, or shoes
New tattoo (tattoos are often used by pimps as away to brand victims.)
Older boyfriend, new friends with a different lifestyle, or gang involvement
Disjointed family connections, running away, living with friends, or experiencing homelessness
These may be signs of Human Trafficker:
This information is from Shared Hope
Jealous, controlling and violent
Significantly older than female companions
Promise things that seem too good to be true
Encourage victims to engage in illegal activities to achieve their goals and dreams
Buys expensive gifts or owns expensive items
Is vague about his/her profession
Pushy or demanding about sex
Encourages inappropriate sexual behavior
Makes the victim feel responsible for his/her financial stability. Very open about financial matters.
Here is a printable handout that I highly recommend keeping on hand.
Know the Resources
Save numbers in your phone so you can seek help quickly. Commit the National Human Trafficking Hotline to memory if possible, especially the text version since it is easy. Keep the number tucked away in your wallet so you can hand it to someone in need. I came across a young woman in a parking lot who was being verbally abused in her car. After a couple times of screaming and slamming the door, he finally left. I asked her if she felt safe. Sobbing, she barely nodded her head and then drove away. I realized I was not properly equipped with the knowledge of the resources in my new town.
That night I went home and saved all the numbers in my phone of local resources for women and children.
National Human Trafficking Hotline
1 (888) 373-7888 or
text HELP or INFO to BeFree (233733)
Memorize these if possible
National Center for Missing & Exploited Children
1 (800) 843-5678
Your local resources
Be informed of the resources available where you live and have their numbers saved in your phone.
Each state has its own laws and practices about human trafficking. Shared Hope reports on each state with a grade, so check to see how your state is doing according to their report.
1. Does state law specifically criminalize the exploitation of minors through sex trafficking and other offenses that relate to the commercial sexual exploitation of children?
2. Does state law impose criminal penalties on sex buyers, who drive the commercial sex market?
3. Does state law impose criminal penalties on those who traffic minors into commercial sex, including pimps, gang members, and family members?
4. Does state law impose criminal penalties on those who facilitate the sale of minors including hotels, drivers, and brothel owners?
5. Does state law prevent minors from being charged with a crime if they are engaged in commercial sex acts and provide a range of services and protections, such as emergency shelter, medical and psychological services, and life skills training?
If you don't like how your state is doing, contact your law makers. This is not a worthless endeavor. We are living in a time where people are more aware than ever and laws are ACTUALLY being made about it. Ok 25 of the 50 states still criminalize children for being involved in commercial sex. My state is one of them! And the 25 that view a child as a victim of a horrible crime have made laws recently (except for Michigan who led the crowd back in 1969 followed by 33 years of silence.) This is so backwards.Meanwhile in my state of Oregon, a defense can build a case saying that the child was willing. Come on. And, a buyer can get off without being registered as a sex offender if it was his first time and he claims he didn't know the female was underaged.
Apply this same concept to speeding:
Officer: "You were driving 100 mph in a school zone."
Driver: "I didn't know there was a school here even though there are signs and blinking lights."
Officer: "Well if you didn't know, then you are free to go."
I'd like to be a voice in my state's journey toward protecting our children right here in America.