Keenan Blog

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Be Part of the Solution to Human Trafficking

John Stephens 5/20/2014
John Stephens

Human trafficking is tragic, it’s real, and it affects thousands of children throughout the United States. Moreover, many children trapped in trafficking situations aren’t smuggled into the country from far-away countries. They’re U.S. citizens held captive right here.

Simply put, human trafficking is a form of abuse, and someday you may be in a position to protect a child. Identifying victims of human trafficking is challenging. Victims are often distraught and psychologically damaged. They may receive threats from the trafficker that, if they talk to anyone, they or their family may be harmed.

Those of you who work in local agencies, education or health care may be in a position to see possible indications of a human trafficking victim. Some warning signs include:

  • Unexplained absences and  irregular attendance
  • Claims of being an adult but looking young
  • No form of personal identification
  • Little or no personal possessions
  • Very quiet, as if unable to speak
  • Multiple injuries like bruises, cuts, burns, or branding marks
  • Signs of malnourishment
  • Fear or a behavior change when law enforcement is mentioned
  • Demeanor that suggests fear, paranoia, anxiousness, psychological distress, or submissiveness
  • Evidence of being controlled or in a relationship with someone who is domineering
  • Inability to answer questions about place of residence
  • Sexually transmitted disease, trouble walking, or poor dental hygiene

Many factors can hinder efforts to help or save victims of human trafficking. These can include the hidden nature of trafficking, lack of awareness among the general public, misperceptions of who victims are, and limited resources. The facts show human trafficking, its victims and its perpetrators exist in our own communities. It is up to all of us to eliminate it. Awareness and education are the first steps in putting an end to human trafficking and child abuse.

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If a child confides in you that he or she is the victim of abuse, do not investigate the crime yourself. Doing so could endanger you and further endanger the child. Report the concerns to child welfare or local law enforcement – these agencies have the appropriate resources to investigate and protect the victim.

For more information about Human Trafficking of Children in the US, visit the US Department of Education website which provides a Fact Sheet and additional resources http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/oese/oshs/factsheet.html