Human Trafficking of Children 
A Fact Sheet for Parents & Schools

Human Trafficking of Children – A Fact Sheet for Parents & Schools

One of the best ways to help combat human trafficking is to raise awareness and learn more about how to identify victims of human trafficking.

What Is Human Trafficking?

Please note, some material on this site is repetitive, but that is okay. Different people land on different pages and may fly away! We want to make sure that they gather useful information about human trafficking from the site no matter what page they enter or exit. - Marion Williams, Human Trafficking Movie Project 

What Is the Extent of Human Trafficking
in the United States?

Contrary to a common assumption, human trafficking is not just a problem in other countries. Cases of human trafficking have been reported in all 50 states, Washington D.C., and some U.S. territories. 

Victims of human trafficking can be children or adults, U.S. citizens or foreign nationals, male or female. According to U.S. government estimates, thousands of men, women, and children are trafficked to the United States for the purposes of sexual and labor exploitation.

An unknown number of U.S. citizens and legal residents are trafficked within the country primarily for sexual servitude and, to a lesser extent, forced labor.

Trafficking can involve school-age children—particularly those not living with their parents—who are vulnerable to coerced labor exploitation, domestic servitude, or commercial sexual exploitation (i.e., prostitution). Sex traffickers target children because of their vulnerability and gullibility, as well as the market demand for young victims.

Those who recruit minors into prostitution violate federal anti-trafficking laws, even if there is no coercion or movement across state lines. The children at risk are not just high school students—studies demonstrate that pimps prey on victims as young as 12. Traffickers have been reported targeting their minor victims through telephone chat-lines, clubs, on the street, through friends, and at malls, as well as using girls to recruit other girls at schools and after-school programs.?

How Do I Identify a Victim of Human Trafficking?

  • A victim of human trafficking: 
  • Has unexplained absences from school for a period of time, and is therefore a truant 
  • Demonstrates an inability to attend school on a regular basis 
  • Chronically runs away from home 
  • Makes references to frequent travel to other cities 
  • Exhibits bruises or other physical trauma, withdrawn behavior, depression, or fear 
  • Lacks control over her or his schedule or identification documents 
  • Is hungry-malnourished or inappropriately dressed (based on weather conditions or surroundings) 
  • Shows signs of drug addiction 
  • Additional signs that may indicate sex-related trafficking include: 
  • Demonstrates a sudden change in attire, behavior, or material possessions (e.g., has expensive items) 
  • Makes references to sexual situations that are beyond age-specific norms 
  • Has a “boyfriend” who is noticeably older (10+ years) 
  • Makes references to terminology of the commercial sex industry that are beyond age specific norms; engages in promiscuous behavior and may be labeled “fast” by peers 
    Click here for a detailed page relating specifically to Identifying Victims of Human Trafficking

  • How Do I Report a Suspected Incidence of Human Trafficking? 
  • In cases of immediate emergencies, it is best to call your local police department or emergency access number. 
  • You can report suspected trafficking crimes or get help by calling the national 24/7 toll-free Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1-888-373-7888 anytime, day or night 365 days per year.

    This center will help you determine if you have encountered a victim of human trafficking; identify local resources available in your community to help victims; and coordinate with local social service providers to help protect and serve victims so they can begin the process of rehabilitation and restoring their lives.
    When appropriate, the Resource Center makes referrals to local organizations that assist victims with counseling, case management, legal advice, and other appropriate services, as well as to law enforcement agencies that help trapped victims reach safety.


The U.S. government supports a victim-centered approach. It funds a national public awareness campaign and a number of nongovernmental organizations that assist victims. The U.S. government seriously pursues human trafficking cases and prosecutes the traffickers. For a complete assessment of U.S. government efforts to combat trafficking in persons, please visit the U.S. Department of Justice Web site:

Resources and Publications

One of the best ways to help combat human trafficking is to raise awareness and learn more about how to identify victims. Information on human trafficking can be found on the following Web sites:

  • NOTE: This fact sheet contains resources, including Web sites, created by a variety of outside organizations. The resources are provided for the user’s convenience, and inclusion does not constitute an endorsement by the U.S. Department of Education of any views, products or services offered or expressed in them. All Web sites were accessed on June 26, 2007. 

U.S. Department of Education Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools 550 12th Street, SW, 10th Floor Washington , DC 20202 (202) 245-7896


It is important to note that this list is not comprehensive of all signs of human trafficking, nor are all students who exhibit these signs most certainly trafficking victims. The list is meant to be a guide to help determine if further action is appropriate.

Click here for more detailed Information

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