January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month, and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is helping spread the word that human trafficking is modern-day slavery.
At least 21 million people worldwide are forced to work without pay and unable to walk away. Traffickers prey on the most vulnerable – those looking for opportunity in the U.S., those without families, and unsuspecting young people online. Anyone can become a victim of human trafficking.
These are our neighbors, in our schools and businesses and churches. The thought of children being used for sexual slavery is unfathomable, but thanks to diligent police work they are now receiving help to rebuild their lives.
The Department of Homeland Security reports that human trafficking generates billions of dollars in profit every year, second only to drug trafficking in profitability.
Recognizing key indicators of human trafficking is the first step in identifying victims and can help save a life. Here are some common indicators to help recognize human trafficking:
* 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?
Not all indicators listed above are present in every human trafficking situation, and the presence or absence of any of the indicators is not necessarily proof of human trafficking.
To report human trafficking, call your local police or sheriff’s department, and/or call 1-866-347-2423.
To get help from the National Human Trafficking Hotline, call 1-888-373-7888 or text HELP or INFO to BeFree (233733).
Additional information can be seen at the Department of Homeland Security website [HERE].