Do you think you’ve experienced sex trafficking?
Sex trafficking is also sometimes called pimping. If you are under 18 and you think you are being trafficked there is a way out. Contact 1-888-373-7888 for help or to talk. Help is available in your language. It is free and it is confidential. If you prefer to text, you can text “Be Free” to 233733.
What is trafficking of minors?
Sex Trafficking – If you are under 18 and involved in exchanging sexual acts or favors for something of value like money, drugs, food or even a ride somewhere then that is considered sex trafficking, as well as exchanging or trading nude pictures or videos. A lot of the time another person sets up the arrangements for you, but not always.
Labor Trafficking – If you are under 18 and tricked, manipulated or forced into performing physical labor at “a job” or told that you have to work to pay off your debt, that is considered labor trafficking. Sometimes youth are also tricked or forced into begging, or working in construction or sales.
The real about human trafficking
1. Myth: Youth labor trafficking only happens in illegal or underground industries.
Fact: Actually, labor trafficking cases have been reported and prosecuted in legitimate businesses like restaurants, cleaning services, construction, factories and more.
2. Myth: Youth Labor trafficking is mainly a problem in developing countries.
Fact: Labor trafficking occurs in the US and in developing countries but is reported at a lower rate than other forms of trafficking.
3. Myth: Youth that are trafficked for either sex or labor will be desperate to escape their trafficker and ask for help when they need it.
Fact: Actually, many youth who experience trafficking may not seek help due to a number of reasons like fear, self-blame, shame or even getting specific instructions from their traffickers on how to behave or how to interact with others. They do not always self-identify and may not realize they have rights.
Juvenile Detention Centers
Bus Stops & Bus Rides
Where does youth trafficking recruitment happen?
Traffickers will usually look for youth at different hangout places. More now than ever before traffickers hang out on social media apps like Instagram, snapchat and dating apps like bumble and tinder.
Who does trafficking happen to?
Sex and labor trafficking can happen to boys, girls, transgender and non-binary youth. Anyone is at risk.
Girls are not the only victims of sex trafficking; boys are also trafficked sexually, but they are less likely to be identified and less likely to report it. Labor and sex trafficking can happen to boys, girls, and gender minorities.
The average ages of trafficking victims are middle school and high school ages. For boys the average age is 11-13 and for girls the average ages 12-14 (Federal bureau of investigation, 2018).
The truth about Youth Trafficking
People sometimes feel that if money isn’t exchanged then it’s not trafficking. This isn’t true. Anytime anything of values is exchanged it is human trafficking. The exchange could simply be a ride home, a couch to sleep on for a night, a meal, increased rank in a gang, etc.
Children being trafficked are physically held against their will. Sometimes traffickers will use force to make a victim stay, but more often when it comes to youth, traffickers use manipulation and deception. They make promises that they never intend to keep to get the youth to agree to what they want.
What do Traffickers look like? Anyone can be a trafficker. There is no dress code.
If you are under 18, it is illegal for someone to recruit you into sex or labor trafficking. Even if they make you believe it was your choice, it is still illegal and it’s not your fault.
How good is your relationship?
Sex trafficking self-assessment
Do you wonder if your relationship is a form of youth sex trafficking? Take the quiz!
- Does my relationship feel unsafe?
- Do I feel scared to leave my relationship?
- Will I become homeless or be asked to leave where I am living if I choose to end my relationship?
- Does my boyfriend/girlfriend beg or persuade me to do sexual things with other people for money, gifts, drugs or weed?
- Does my boyfriend/girlfriend make me feel bad when I don’t want to do sexual things with other people?
If you are unsure about saying no to any of these questions, it maybe a sign of sex trafficking.
Do you like your job?
Labor trafficking self-assessment
Do you wonder if your job duties may be a form of youth Labor trafficking? Take the quiz!
- Do I feel safe at my job?
- Do I get all the benefits that I was promised?
- Do I get paid for all of the hours I work as much as I was promised?
- Can I choose to leave my job without owing something to my employer?
If you are unsure about saying no to any of these questions, it may be a sign of labor trafficking. Labor trafficking is being scared, tricked or forced into work that is different than what was promised without an opportunity to leave safely or without a debt to your employer.
Kiara had no support at home and often found herself the object of her dad’s rage. By age 14, she had been sexually assaulted by someone very close to her family. Her self-esteem was at an all-time low, and she felt as though no one loved her.
One day walking from school she was approached by a nice-looking guy with a nice car who told her how beautiful she was. That felt good. Soon they were inseparable.
Shortly after meeting, the guy took her shopping and bought her some nice clothes and shoes to go to a party with him. He even paid for her hair and nails. He claimed her as his girlfriend and often told her how much he loved her.
At the party, he asked her to have sex with his close friend so that he could afford to pay his car note and be able to continue picking her up from school. Kiara said she didn’t want to and that it made her feel uncomfortable. But after 30 minutes of him begging and telling her if she didn’t, he would get a new girlfriend who would, she agreed.
After 6 months, Kiara’s school began to notice her tardiness and absents. When she did come to school, she always appeared tired. The school nurse also noticed how frequently Kiara visited her. When examining her one day, the nurse noticed a new and odd tattoo on the underside of the child’s wrist. The school contacted DSS. After an investigation, DSS found that Kiara was being trafficked, intervened, and quickly assign her a survivor mentor and counselor.
Juan entered the United States without authorization at fourteen years old to join distant family members who had promised to enroll him in school and give him a part-time job at the family restaurant.
Instead, upon arriving, they took his documents “for safekeeping,” including his school records. Though he asked, they refused to enroll him in classes and forced him to work in “the back of the house” washing dishes.
He worked 16-hour days from the breakfast shift through closing. Not only was he not paid well, he discovered his earning were actually being held to cover his room and board. Every day one of the adults in the family would take him to and from work, ensuring he had no contact with others.
Since he spoke an indigenous language, he couldn’t even communicate with other restaurant workers. He was utterly alone except for the one phone call to his family he was allowed per week. But these calls weren’t private. He had to use the trafficker’s phone with them standing by and listening, having threatened to report him to immigration if he complained to his parents.
After a year, a patron that regularly visited the restaurant noticed that Juan looked malnourished and too young to be working so much. She also noticed that he often wore the same clothes.
The customer decided to speak to Juan and learn more about him. When she gestured to him, the restaurant manager quickly intervened. This made the customer suspicious, and she called DSS to tell them what she noticed. DSS investigated and discovered that there was a cot and sink in the basement of the restaurant. Juan was removed and placed in a foster home and set up with counseling, legal and immigrant services.
This project was support by Grant number 2017-VA-GX-0050 awarded by the Office of Victims of Crime, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed in this publication, program/exhibition are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice, Office of Victim’s Crime.