Sometimes I feel like a broken record (or if you're younger than 95, a CD player that skips or an iPod on perpetual one-song shuffle).
As much as other abolitionists and I blog, write, and talk about child trafficking happening in US SCHOOLS, most people are still unaware.
Maybe this US Department of Education publication will do it: "Human Trafficking of Children in the US: A Fact Sheet for Schools."
The dangers are so bad that the DOE is actually warning schools about child trafficking and telling them what signs to look for.
"Cases of human trafficking have been reported in all 50 states, Washington D.C., and some U.S. territories," according to the fact sheet. "Victims of human trafficking can be children or adults, U.S. citizens or foreign nationals, male or female."
How does human trafficking happen in our schools?
"Trafficking can involve school-age children—particularly those not living with their parents—who are vulnerable to coerced labor exploitation, domestic servitude, or commercial sexual exploitation (i.e., prostitution).
"Sex traffickers target children because of their vulnerability and gullibility, as well as the market demand for young victims. Those who recruit minors into prostitution violate federal anti-trafficking laws, even if there is no coercion or movement across state lines.
"The children at risk are not just high school students—studies demonstrate that pimps prey on victims as young as 12. Traffickers have been reported targeting their minor victims through telephone chat-lines, clubs, on the street, through friends, and at malls, as well as using girls to recruit other girls at schools and after-school programs."
How can you identify a school-age victim of human trafficking?
According to the fact sheet, a victim:
- Has unexplained absences from school for a period of time
- Demonstrates an inability to attend school on a regular basis
- Chronically runs away from home
- Makes references to frequent travel to other cities
- Exhibits bruises or other physical trauma, withdrawn behavior, depression, or fear
- Lacks control over her or his schedule or identification documents
- Is hungry, malnourished, or inappropriately dressed (based on weather conditions or surroundings)
- Shows signs of drug addiction
Additional signs that may indicate sex-related trafficking include:
- Demonstrates a sudden change in attire, behavior, or material possessions (e.g., has expensive items)
- Makes references to sexual situations that are beyond age-specific norms
- Has a “boyfriend” who is noticeably older (10+ years)
- Makes references to terminology of the commercial sex industry that are beyond age specific norms; engages in promiscuous behavior and may be labeled “fast” by peers
Remember this list is not comprehensive of all signs of human trafficking, nor are all students who exhibit these signs trafficking victims.
What should you do if you suspect a child is being trafficked?
- In cases of immediate emergencies, call your local police department or emergency access number.
- Report suspected trafficking crimes or get help by calling the national 24/7 toll-free Human Trafficking Resource Center at 888-373-7888.
- For sexually exploited or abused minors, call the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s hotline at 800-THE-LOST or www.cybertipline.org.
- Contact the FBI www.fbi.gov/contact/fo/fo.htm or the Department of Justice’s Human Trafficking Office at 888-428-7581.