January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month. Keep reading to learn about human trafficking, spot the signs, and know how to react if you suspect a youth is being trafficked or sexually exploited.
Make sure you join us on Wednesday, January 11th by wearing BLUE to raise awareness of human trafficking. Post a picture of yourself wearing BLUE and tag the Child Advocacy Center. On the same day (January 11th at 10:00pm) Niagara Falls will be illuminated in BLUE for Human Trafficking Awareness Month. Be sure to take a look!
You can also help us spread awareness by sharing our newsletter with your agency, friends and family, and participating in daily activities by downloading our Human Trafficking Awareness Calendar below.
There are certain risk factors that make some youth more vulnerable to trafficking. Understanding these can help our community identify and assist “at-risk” youth by providing positive supports in their life.
- Low socioeconomic status
- History of abuse and/or neglect
- Exposure to violence
- History of alcohol or substance abuse
- Social media risk taking
- Mental health diagnosis
- Risky behavior
- Displaced from home
- Low self-esteem or self-worth
- Lack of resources and natural supports
Spot the Signs
These warning signs indicate that something may not be right. One of these alone doesn’t necessarily indicate trafficking but can indicate other issues such as abuse. If some of these ring true for a child with whom you interact, you should reach out to us immediately, 716-285-0045.
- Is under 18 years old and performs commercial sex acts
- Is excessively monitored by an adult who is not a parent or guardian, such as an older partner or “sponsor” who claims to provide for their upbringing and needs, or who insists on speaking for them or being present at all times
- Detached or (suddenly) isolated from majority of family members and friends
- Is unable to give answers about their schedules or living and work locations/conditions; appears to possibly work and live in the same building or location
- Has numerous inconsistencies in his/her story; contradictory personal information (age, place of birth, family life)
- Has excessive security measures at his/her home or work (i.e., security cameras, boarded or covered windows); constant traffic of men at his/her home or work location
- Noticeable change in dress, jewelry, hair, or nails without explainable source of income
- Shows signs of physical or sexual abuse (bruises, cuts, burns, submissiveness, jumpy, malnourishment); appears fearful, anxious, depressed, overly submissive, and avoids eye contact
- Suffers from substance abuse problems (alcohol and/or drugs), an array of other psychological disorders, sexually transmitted diseases, or chronic illnesses
- Carries multiple hotel key cards, lots of money, sharp objects (weapons)
- Sudden presence of an older boyfriend/girlfriend
- Tattoo with a name that is not their own; or that he/she is reluctant to explain
Online Safety is Key
Many youths get involved in trafficking by someone they met online. Perpetrators are able to identify vulnerable children and seek them out; not just in places they may physically visit, but also on social media. Vulnerable children with unmonitored access to social media are easy targets for grooming and being approached by perpetrators. Visit Love146 to learn important ways youth can stay safe online: Internet Safety Tips and Tricks to Keep Yourself Safe From Online Creepers (love146.org)
Not Just Girls
Recently, the FBI released a report on the increase of online sextortion cases involving young males. At least 3,000 victims have been identified in which children are coerced into sending explicit content. This is a 1000% increase from the same period last year.
FBI Director Christopher Wray, said, “Victims may feel like there is no way out. It is up to all of us to reassure them that they are not in trouble, there is hope, and they are not alone.”
You can learn more about ways to protect youth from online exploitation here: Exploitation and How to Protect Yourself | Homeland Security (dhs.gov)
What Can You Do?
Be a positive remodel for teens and youth in your life. Show you care, take an interest in their life and be supportive. Continue to talk to youth and teenagers about consent, healthy relationships, and online safety. Visit Love146 for more information on how parents and caregivers support is a great protective factor: Love Listens – Parents Can Help Prevent Child Trafficking – Love146
If you believe a child is in immediate danger, call 9-1-1. If you suspect a youth may be a victim of trafficking you can also contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline to report a tip, request services or get help. Call 1-888-373-7888 or text BeFree (233733).
Awareness Month Newsletter and Activity Calendar
Share our newsletter with your agency, friends and family: Trafficking Awareness Month 2023 Newsletter
Download Calendar Here to access all the links: January 2023 Calendar HT Awareness Month
Resources and Additional Reading:
Part 1: Mia’s Story | Homeland Security (dhs.gov)
Vulnerabilities & Recruitment – Polaris (polarisproject.org)
Love and Trafficking – Polaris (polarisproject.org)
FBI and Partners Issue National Public Safety Alert on Financial Sextortion Schemes — FBI
What Causes Human Trafficking? 10 Risk Factors that Increase Children’s Vulnerability – Love146