Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery where people are coerced or forced into labor or sexual exploitation. It involves the manipulation of power in a relationship and results in someone being exploited for another person’s benefit. There are many types of human trafficking, including sex trafficking, forced labor, and domestic servitude.
Human traffickers use various tricks to exploit their victims, so identifying them before it’s too late can be challenging. However, by understanding known tactics used by traffickers and the red flags you should look out for, you can more effectively identify human trafficking situations before they escalate. Here are some helpful strategies and tips on how to identify human trafficking in your school.
Be Alert for Inconsistent Behavior
Human traffickers often use threats, drugs, or other forms of coercion to persuade their victims to comply with the rules. This can cause victims to behave in ways that are out of character and inconsistent with their personalities, such as seeming demure or uncharacteristically introverted. Therefore, if a student exhibits behaviors that don’t seem to fit with his or her personality, or their personality changes rapidly, this could be a sign of coercion. Other indicators include a sudden withdrawal from social activities, changes in grades, a change in appearance, or sudden unexplained wealth or expensive gifts.
Be Alert for Signs of Physical Abuse
Physical abuse, particularly when it’s inconsistent with the victim’s history, can be a sign of human trafficking. Traffickers often use physical abuse as a means of control, particularly in cases of sex trafficking. This could include unexplained broken bones or other marks on the body. You should also look for sudden changes in a student’s general appearance, including poor hygiene, unkempt or matted hair, sudden weight loss, or sudden changes in facial structure.
Be Wary of Missed School Days and Unexplained Absences
If you notice that a student who is usually very consistent with attendance suddenly misses a lot of school, or if he or she has unexplained and prolonged absences, this could be a red flag. In sex trafficking situations, traffickers often keep their victims out of school as much as possible, so that they can continue exploiting them. This can be done by falsifying records or keeping the student out of school for a prolonged period. If you notice that a student has a lot of unexplained absences or missed days, you should consider contacting the student’s parents and making a note in their file.
Be Aware of Changes in a Person’s Appearance
Traffickers often use grooming techniques to take advantage of their victims, such as giving them fancy new clothes or dyeing their hair. You should be particularly wary of sudden changes in appearance that don’t correlate with the student’s profile or with their financial situation.
Identifying human trafficking in schools is a challenging task that can be complicated by the fact that many traffickers are very careful about concealing their activities. Because of this, it’s important to be aware of the warning signs of trafficking and to be prepared to take action when necessary. This includes being prepared to breach confidentiality if necessary and contacting law enforcement.