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Many people think, “How could a child possibly be trafficked in America?” Some are children from other countries who are brought to the United States, but many are American children. They’re children who fall in love with a person who turns out to be a trafficker, or youth who end up in desperate, vulnerable situations that leave them easily exploited.

Human trafficking is the practice of using force, fraud, or coercion to exploit people through labor and commercial sex. You can help your child, and other children in your community, help feel empowered to protect themselves from exploitation, and know that they can come to you with their concerns, vulnerabilities, and experiences. Victims of trafficking and exploitation are not a number. They are not a statistic. They are individuals—young girls and boys, as well as adults of all social and economic backgrounds. It’s possible you may have come across a child at risk of exploitation at some point in your life and did not know it. In the most unfortunate of circumstances, the victim may be your own child. The resources here include information to help you understand the reality of human trafficking and exploitation, and most importantly, what you can do as a parent/caregiver to safeguard your children and others in your community.




For many youth, the internet is a positive and powerful space for socializing, learning, and engaging in public life. The Internet isn’t a scary place, but there’s no denying that it presents unique opportunities for harm. Minors face risk online, just as they do in other spaces in which people congregate: social networking sites and online gaming platforms are being used to recruit victims. These questions can help you determine a standard for your home: Where will internet-enabled devices (computers, laptops, tablets, gaming consoles, electronic books) be located? What times throughout the day is the Internet allowed? What types of websites are people allowed to access both in and outside of the home? How is social media (e.g., Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Omegle) used?


Would you feel comfortable talking to your youth, or one of their friends, if they opened up to you about something sensitive? It’s not always easy to maintain a safe space, but your youth needs to know there is an open invitation to talk about anything they’re experiencing without fear of judgement. Our in-depth guide for parents and caregivers will help you to understand risks and vulnerabilities, how have difficult conversations and ask the right questions, and cover the following topics:

  • Knowing “dos and don’ts” in talking to a child about potential threats: Our guide provides a few “Dos and Don’ts” when talking to a child you suspect is vulnerable or has been/is being sexually exploited.

  • Developing safety plans together: In addition to reading through the scenarios we’ve provided and developing action steps together, make a list of trusted peers and adults that your child can talk to in an uncomfortable situation.

  • Seeing vulnerabilities specific to your youth and neighborhood: Those who traffic and exploit children are master manipulators. Ken “Pimpin Ken” Ivy, a notorious trafficker, said “It doesn’t matter to a pimp what [their] weaknesses are, so long as they have them. Then he uses those weaknesses to his advantage….” The definition of exploitation is to take advantage of vulnerabilities, so it’s important to ask the question: what makes your child vulnerable?


Grooming for trafficking and exploitation can be masked in everyday conversations and latch onto an individual’s normal needs and desires. Signs to look for include the following:

    • The sudden presence of an older boyfriend/girlfriend.
      • The sudden addition of a lot of new stuff or the appearance that a lot of money has been spent on them (e.g., new clothes, new hair styles, manicures/pedicures).

      • Being secretive about who they are talking to or meeting.

      • Becoming more and more isolated from their regular friends.

      • Unexplained changes in behavior, temperament, or personality (e.g., chaotic, aggressive, sexual, mood swings).


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If you would like to set up a training or awareness event, contact us!

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