Last night I attended a seminar and film about human trafficking. I knew it was an increasing problem, because of all the tweets I have seen, so I wanted to know more. Sometimes ignorance is bliss, but if we don’t do something, hundreds of girls ages 12 to 14 who have been brainwashed to believe their pimp loves them would not get any help. “The average age a child is lured into prostitution is 13 years old. Experts estimate at least 100,000 American juveniles are victimized through prostitution in the U.S. each year.” (Handout from Protected Innocence Initiative)
If you see a situation in which a child may be a victim of trafficking, please report it to the police immediately. According to Child Victims of Human Trafficking Fact Sheet, everyone needs to know how to recognize a victim of trafficking.
“Traffickers frequently confiscate their victims’ immigration and identification documents. Traffickers frequently instill in their victims a fear of government officials – particularly law enforcement and immigration officers. These are two of the challenges in identifying victims of trafficking. But whether you are a law enforcement officer, health care professional or a social service provider, there are clues that can alert you to a victim:
Child victims of labor trafficking are often hungry or malnourished to the extent that they may never reach their full height, many have poorly formed or rotting teeth, and later may experience reproductive problems.
The psychological signs of torture are helplessness, shame and humiliation, shock, denial and disbelief, disorientation and confusion, and anxiety disorders including post -traumatic disorder, phobias, panic attacks and depression.
Environmental facters including whether the child is living at the workplace or with the employer, living with mulitiple people in a cramped space, and attending school sproadically or not at all, or has a significant gap of schooling in the U.S.
Victims may experience Traumatic Bonding (Stockholm Syndrome) – a form of coercive control in which the perpetrator instills in the victim fear as well as gratitude for being allowed to live or for other perceived favors, however small.
Traffickers of children are sometimes family members, or may sometimes condition their victims to refer to them by familial titles (e.g. uncle, aunt, counsin).”
Please be on the look-out for victims, especially children who find themselves caught in this nightmare of a trap and if you even suspect that you see or know a child who is being sold into sex slavery, call the police.