Human Trafficking is Modern-Day Slavery

Human Trafficking

Human trafficking is a modern-day form of slavery. Victims of human trafficking are subjected to force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of sexual exploitation or forced labor. Victims are young children, teenagers, men and women.

Every day human beings are forced into slavery. Hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children are trafficked throughout the world, across international borders, and in the United States every year.

Child victims of trafficking are often exploited for sexual purposes, including prostitution, pornography and sex tourism. They are also exploited for forced labor, including domestic servitude, sweatshop factory work and migrant farming.

Child victims of trafficking can be found in:

  • Commercial sex
  • Domestic servitude (servants)
  • Factories
  • Construction
  • Farming or landscaping
  • Fisheries
  • Hotel or tourist industries
  • Panhandling
  • Janitorial services
  • Restaurant services

Identifying Child Victims of Human Trafficking

Children who are victims of human trafficking may be mistaken for prostitutes, runaway youth, migrant farm workers or domestic servants. By looking beneath the surface, picking up on the right clues and asking the right questions, you may uncover children who are being exploited.

  • Children exploited for labor are often hungry or malnourished to the extent they may never reach their full height or they may have poorly formed or rotting teeth.
  • Children exploited for sexual purposes may show evidence of untreated sexually transmitted diseases, urinary tract infections, and kidney problems.
  • Children who are victims of trafficking can also be identified by environmental factors, including whether the child lives at the workplace or with an employer, lives with multiple people in a cramped space, or is not in school, attends school sporadically or has a significant gap of schooling in the U.S.
  • Forced labor may expose children to physical abuse or leave signs such as scars, headaches, hearing loss, cardiovascular/respiratory problems and limb amputation. They may also develop chronic back, visual and respiratory problems from working in agriculture, construction or manufacturing.
  • The psychological effects of exploitation include helplessness, shame and humiliation, shock, depression, denial and disbelief, disorientation and and confusion, and anxiety disorders including post traumatic stress disorder, phobias, and panic attacks.

Communicating with Child Victims of Human Trafficking

When communicating with children who have been exploited, it is important to remember child victims have special needs and may assume what has happened to them is their own fault. Often, child victims of trafficking may not establish trust easily due to their experiences. They may have been coached to answer your questions in a certain way. With the guidance and involvement of a child welfare expert, asking some of the following questions may help you determine if you are dealing with a child victim of trafficking:

While these questions provide a beginning to a challenging dialogue, it is vital to remember that the child should be approached in a manner that reflects his or her age, development, culture, language and what is known about the nature of his or her experience.

  • Why did you come to the U.S.? What did you expect when you came? Were you scared?
  • Do you have any papers? Who has them?
  • Are you in school? Are you working? Can you leave if you want?
  • Where do you live? Who else lives there? Are you scared to leave?
  • Has anybody ever threatened you to keep you from running away?
  • Did anyone ever make you feel unsafe or hurt your body in any way?