How to Recognize Trafficking When You See It

How to Recognize Trafficking When You See It


Last week, we covered the unhinged online conspiracy theory that Wayfair is trafficking children through overpriced office furniture. However, child trafficking is very real. Would you know it if you saw it?

Should They Be in School?

According to UK-based National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, kids who have been trafficked can often be spotted if you are observant. The first red flag is if the kids don’t appear to be attending school.

While it is possible that they are being homeschooled, if you regularly see a child or group of children in your neighborhood during school hours, it might be a cause for concern. You should be especially wary if you these kids performing chores or manual labor beyond what seems normal during typical school hours.

Suspicious Behavior

Another red flag is the child’s behavior. Kids who act fearful and will not make eye contact might be shy, or they might be traumatized. Often, these kids will appear depressed or withdrawn. Traffickers prey upon the most emotionally vulnerable kids, including teenage runaways.

If approached, these children will often refuse to speak about their situation. Sometimes, the opposite is true and they will be belligerent or confrontational — especially in older kids. Younger kids may not be able to tell you what town or even country they are in, according to the NSPCC.  Some kids may have an answer that sounds rehearsed or lifted from a TV show or movie.

Physical Signs of Abuse and Neglect

Trafficked kids may show obvious signs of physical abuse and/or neglect. Children who are unkempt or clearly have not bathed recently may be at risk. Those who are wearing ill-fitting clothes or lack proper clothing for the weather should also get a closer look.

Sometimes the opposite is true, and you may see a child wearing obviously expensive clothing and jewelry. Predators will often groom children and give them lavish gifts.

Obvious bruising or other injuries are warning signs that require immediate attention. If you see a child with marks of physical abuse, it may be a good idea to report your concerns to local authorities.

Spotting Trafficking During Travel

According to a CNN report, airports are hubs for human trafficking. Train stations, bus stops, and even gas stations may also be areas where trafficked children are present. If you see something suspicious, it’s worth pointing out. You just might be saving a child from a terrible fate.

Experts warn that you should not approach a suspected trafficker or their victim directly. Instead, report what you’ve seen to a person in authority. You can also report what you saw anonymously using a tip line.