Youth from every socioeconomic background are at risk for sexual exploitation. Knowing the red flags and indicators of human trafficking is key to identifying victims and helping them obtain the assistance they need. Familiarize yourself with the warning signs that could be present when a child or teen is involved with trafficking.
▪ Does the youth exhibit signs of physical and/or sexual abuse? Are there bruises on the face or wrist?
▪ Do you notice a new hair style, wig, or polished nails knowing that the youth does not have the means for these services?
▪ Are there new tattoos on the youth’s arms, wrists or neck? Do the tatoos have gang symbols or references?
▪ Does the youth have multiple cell phones?
▪ Is the youth running away to unknown places and for unknown reasons?
▪ Do you notice a pattern in the time of day the youth goes missing?
▪ Is the youth away or working excessively long and/or unusual hours?
▪ Is the youth unpaid, paid very little, or paid in exchange for food, clothing and/or housing?
▪ Has the youth been promised unrealistic opportunities such as a modeling career?
▪ Is the youth unable or unwilling to identify the name of an employer or person picking them up from your home?
▪ Is the youth saying they are working but you do not see a paycheck?
▪ Is the youth unsure of the address where they are staying? Do they not have a key?
▪ Does the youth have a public social media account with hundreds or thousands of followers?
▪ Is the youth posting sexual content on social media?
▪ Is the youth connected to an older man or woman who is isolating them?
▪ Is the youth meeting up with adults they met on social media?
▪ Does the youth present with a heightened sense of fear or anxiety?
▪ Is the youth depressed, submissive, tense, nervous and/or paranoid?
▪ Does the youth have a hard time making and maintaining eye contact?
▪ Does the youth present as withdrawn from relationships, school and other important aspects of their life?
▪ Does the youth feel hopeless or out of control?
▪ Is the youth at risk of self-harm due to increased hopelessness and/or feeling trapped?
▪ Does the youth have numerous inconsistencies or inaccuracies in his/her story?
▪ Does the youth lack access to health care?
Additional resources are available through the Ohio Attorney General’s website.
If you suspect or know a youth is in trouble, call: 24/7 Homeless & Missing Youth Hotline 216-570-8010; FBI Tip Line 216-522-1400; Cuyahoga County Human Trafficking Task Force 216-443-6085; or your Local Law Enforcement 911.