The holiday season is full of joy and wonder, so it’s easy during this time of year to forget something as evil as human trafficking exists, much less look for it. But it’s important to know the signs so that you can spot human trafficking. Here are three ways you can be on the lookout for trafficking.
Be Vigilant Online
No doubt you, along with many other Americans, are doing a lot of shopping, particularly online, as you prepare for Christmas. As you do, beware of random “sweepstake” emails, suspicious messages, etc. Traffickers and spammers are getting better and better at pretending like they know you or that they are “legit.” But if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is! Don’t fall for it.
Your teens, in particular, may be susceptible to traffickers’ tricks. For instance, your teen might make a new “Instagram friend” and have multiple conversations via chat, not knowing it’s actually a trafficker. It’s important to discuss the do’s and don’ts of online safety with your teens, especially as they spend more time posting their holiday memories to social media and shopping online.
Be on the Lookout for Trafficking Amongst People You Know and Trust
We tend to stereotype traffickers, so the last place we would think to look for trafficking is at the office Christmas party or the church nursery. But not all traffickers look alike, and unfortunately, your neighbor, co-worker, or the gal doing your nails might be a trafficking victim. So be on the lookout for trafficking, not just in unfamiliar places but in places you do feel safe. The Shero Foundation says you can help trafficking victims by being on the lookout for suspicious persons/behavior and reporting anything that looks or feels off. Here are some of the ways they say you can spot human trafficking during the holiday season:
- “Older people traveling with younger children- An older person that is traveling with young children that don’t appear to be related. Sometimes a human trafficker will travel with children that speak a different language. These children often looked worried and confused.
- Closely guarded– Traffickers want to make sure their victims don’t escape. Therefore, they will closely guard their victim, not allowing them to roam freely in the airport or anywhere.
- Signs of physical abuse: Children who are trafficked may have bruises, burns, and scars. They also may look malnourished.
- They don’t know details of their itinerary – Traffickers will avoid providing their victims with any documentation of where their victims are going. They want to make sure the victims are enslaved.
- Limited interaction with others- A victim of human trafficking will rarely look you in the eye and avoid any casual conversation. Some traffickers coach their victims on what to say and how to act during travel to ensure they don’t escape.
- Tattoos– While tattoos are not uncommon, many traffickers feel like they own their victims and need to brand them. If you see a tattoo of a name, barcode, symbol, or even the word ‘Daddy’, that may be a sign that this person is a human trafficking victim.”
Be Aware of Your Surroundings When You’re in Public
Being out and about during the holiday season often means rushing from place to place and from task to task. Throughout the hustle and bustle, stay alert and aware of your surroundings whenever you are in public. Crowded places like the subway, the mall, or the airport are the perfect cover for traffickers to make their move. If you see something that looks off or someone that looks uncomfortable, don’t be afraid to report it. Call the police (911) or the National Human Trafficking Line 1-888-373-7888. You can also text “HELP” or “INFO” to SMS: 233733.