Know the Signs of Human Trafficking

Know the Signs of Human Trafficking

Human trafficking is a growing epidemic. According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, in the United States reports of human trafficking jumped 35% from 2015 to 2016. Child sex trafficking is one of the most common types of commercial sexual exploitation, and it’s happening right here in our community. But do you know how to recognize the signs?

Here are some common indicators to help you recognize if a child is being trafficked:

  • They exhibit fear, tension, shame, humiliation, nervousness
  • They are involved with a ‘girlfriend’ or ‘boyfriend’ who is older, controlling, domineering, indulging
  • They have new material possessions (or services performed for them, like nails, hair extensions), unjustified by their income and acquired through someone other than a parent
  • They may have a tattoo that they are reluctant to explain (often a name on the neck or arm)
  • They have new friends and are reluctant to explain how they met
  • They have little knowledge of the community where they are located

“Depending on your relationship with the suspected victim you may have varying responses but all should include a call to the Hotline, 888-373-7888 – Your information will be directed to the appropriate responders in the area – either the local police or FBI,“ says Pam Hamilton, LCSW who specializes in Human Trafficking Training at Cornerstones of Care.

Missouri Takes the Next Step Against Trafficking

“In reality, if there was not a demand for paid sex, then we wouldn’t have this as a problem. We can’t just look at the individual factors, we have to look systematically. So, there are some big shifts that need to happen,” says Hamilton.

One of those initial shifts made recently at the state-wide level, is the creation of a permanent Human Trafficking Task Force by Missouri’s Attorney, General, Josh Hawley. This task force will establish collaborative responses, standardized trainings and work with legislators to update statutes, as well as serve victims and address trafficking in the state of Missouri. It is chaired by the attorney general and includes representatives from many disciplines — including local prosecutors, police and leaders from the non-profit sector. Pam Hamilton was recently appointed to the Human Trafficking Task Force due to her expertise on the subject matter and the training curriculum she developed to educate Children's Division employees across the state.

“Attorney General Hawley’s vision is to create a professional network equipped to respond to trafficking cases, as well as encourage standardized training for human trafficking across disciplines such as healthcare, social services and law enforcement. His vision has been refined through research and collaboration with experts in the field in order to respond justly and efficaciously to those who are being victimized,” says Hamilton. 

“I’m honored to be a part of the task force and look forward to collaborating with people who are dedicated, involved and want to make a difference in this egregious industry.”

Learn More About Our Community Trainings

If you suspect human trafficking …

If you, or someone you know is in immediate danger call 911. 

You can also call the National Human Trafficking Hotline toll-free at 1-888-373-7888 or text “BE FREE”.  You can call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and all reports are confidential. You can also submit a confidential and anonymous online tip here.