Trafficking is Hard to Spot Even When You Know the Signs.

It’s National Human Trafficking Prevention Month

Awareness and being able to spot the signs that someone may be a victim of human trafficking is one way to help prevent sex trafficking of teens. More than 79,000 teens are trafficked for sex in Texas. Traffickers are especially adept at targeting vulnerable kids and their grooming techniques are often masked in everyday conversations that latch onto an individual’s normal needs and desires. Sex trafficking victims don’t always know that they are being trafficked.

It takes a community that’s aware and looking out for its children to keep them protected. Please be informed and help protect kids (girls and boys) in your community by watching for any of the following signs and red flags:

  • The sudden presence of an older boyfriend/girlfriend

  •  The sudden addition of a lot of new stuff or the appearance that a lot of money has been spent on them (e.g., new clothes, new hair styles, manicures/pedicures) without explainable source of income

  •  Being secretive about who they are talking to or meeting and receiving constant texts or phone calls that they take in private

  •  Becoming more and more isolated from their regular friends (the groomer often does this to have as much control as possible over the child)

  •  Unexplained changes in behavior, temperament, or personality (e.g., chaotic, aggressive, sexual, mood swings)

  •  Unexplained absences from school or sneaking out of the house

  •  Is excessively monitored or controlled by parents, a supposed guardian or older partner or “sponsor” who claims to provide for their upbringing and needs, or who always insists on speaking for them or being present

  •  Detached or (suddenly) isolated from majority of family members and friends

  •  Is unable to give answers about their schedules or living and work locations/conditions; appears to possibly work and live in the same building or location

  •  Has numerous inconsistencies in his/her story; contradictory personal information (age, place of birth, family life)

  •  Has excessive security measures at his/her home or work (i.e., security cameras, boarded or covered windows); constant traffic of men at his/her home or work location

  •  Shows signs of physical or sexual abuse (bruises, cuts, burns, submissiveness, jumpy, malnourishment); appears fearful, anxious, depressed, overly submissive, and avoids eye contact

  •  Suffers from substance abuse problems (alcohol and/or drugs), an array of other psychological disorders, sexually transmitted diseases, or chronic illnesses

  •  Carries multiple hotel key cards, lots of money, sharp objects (weapons)

  •  Tattoo with a name that is not their own; or that he/she is reluctant to explain

Girls with Grit is working diligently to teach teens about the realities of trafficking in our area. If you ever suspect trafficking, call the National Trafficking Hotline at 1.888.373.7888. ADD THIS NUMBER TO YOUR CONTACTS.

Deborah Pfluger