How can I identify human trafficking?

How can I identify human trafficking?
June 1, 23

Allison M. Smith has undergraduate and graduate degrees in Human Development and Social Policy from the University of Utah, where she taught for many years. She has had an extensive career in advocacy for children and families, working in various capacities at both state and local levels with individuals affected by human trafficking, substance use disorders, and the various challenges that accompany them. Allison joined Operation Underground Railroad’s (O.U.R.) Aftercare Team in 2021 and is currently Director of Education for O.U.R., working to ensure that education, training, and technical assistance are provided to all people throughout the world. Allison is a member of the Utah Opioid Task Force and a Board Member of the National Alliance for Drug Endangered Children.

How can I identify human trafficking?

According to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS, 2022), there are many key indicators of human trafficking, and identifying victims and can help save a life. Some common indicators to help recognize human trafficking are the following:

  • Does the person appear disconnected from family, friends, community organizations, or houses of worship?

  • Has a child stopped attending school?

  • Has the person had a sudden or dramatic change in behavior?

  • Is a juvenile engaged in commercial sex acts?

  • Is the person disoriented or confused, or showing signs of mental or physical abuse?

  • Does the person have bruises in various stages of healing?

  • Is the person fearful, timid, or submissive?

  • Does the person show signs of having been denied food, water, sleep, or medical care?

  • Is the person often in the company of someone to whom he or she defers? Or someone who seems to be in control of the situation, e.g., where they go or who they talk to?

  • Does the person appear to be coached on what to say?

  • Is the person living in unsuitable conditions?

  • Does the person lack personal possessions and appear not to have a stable living situation?

  • Does the person have freedom of movement? Can the person freely leave where they live? Are there unreasonable security measures?

Department of Homeland Security. (2022, March 21). Indicators of Human Trafficking. Blue Campaign.