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Recognize the Signs of Human Trafficking


Human trafficking is a crime involving the exploitation of someone for the purpose of compelled labor or a commercial sex act through the use of force, fraud, or coercion.  Human trafficking affects individuals across the world, including here in the United States, and is commonly regarded as one of the most pressing human rights' issues of our time.

Human trafficking affects every community in the United States across age, gender, ethnicity, and socio-economic backgrounds.  Human trafficking within the United States affects victims who are U. S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, visa holders, and undocumented workers.

Victims of human trafficking often do not immediately seek help or self-identify as victims of a crime due to a variety of factors, including lack of trust, self-blame, or specific instructions by the traffickers regarding how to behave when talking to law enforcement or social services.  The victim often exhibits these characteristics:

  • Is fearful, anxious, depressed, submissive, tense, or nervous/paranoid.
  • Exhibits unusually fearful or anxious behavior after bringing up law enforcement.
  • Avoids eye contact.

Sex trafficking is the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, obtaining, patronizing, or soliciting of a person for the purposes of a commercial sex act, in which the commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act has not attained 18 years of age.

Labor trafficking is the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purposes of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.


If you see any of these red flags,

contact the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline at 1-888-373-7888.



An unaccompanied minor at night

A person appearing fearful, anxious, depressed, submissive, tense or paranoid

A person monitoring or restricting another's movement and communication device usage

A person being supplied with drugs to ensure compliance

A person being coerced or coached by another

Signs of malnourishment

Injuries from beatings and/or signs of torture (cigarette burns, bruises, etc.)

Wearing minimal clothing or scantily clad

Multiple young people exiting a vehicle one at a time, displaying above indicators


For more information, please visit the National Human Trafficking Resource Center websites.


 SOURCES:  National Sheriffs' Association and California Highway Patrol