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Providing services for survivors of trafficking and exploitation requires specialized training and experience. Professionals that work with youth do not need to have a completely different set of skills to play a significant role in addressing trafficking and exploitation. Adults can have a very positive impact by way of prevention as they help youth access information, support services, and skill building. Adults can recognize attitudes, language, and beliefs that might contribute to some of the vulnerabilities affecting youth. They can challenge the harmful attitudes, language, and beliefs as they work with youth.

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 girls who fall in love with a man who turns out to be a pimp, boys who end up in desperate situations, or children who are vulnerable in other ways. Human trafficking is modern day slavery. It is the practice of using force fraud or coercion to exploit people through labor and commercial sex. You can help the youth you work with to feel empowered to protect themselves by helping them access information and support services, and by challenging the attitudes, language and beliefs that might contribute to the vulnerabilities affecting youth.

Victims of trafficking and exploitation are not a number. 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 career and not know it. 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 professional working with children to prevent child trafficking and exploitation.


HERE ARE EXAMPLES OF VULNERABILITIES

that you might identify in the youth you work with:

Individual/Psychological

Relational

Cultural/Societal

  • Low self-esteem
  • History of sexual abuse
  • Loneliness, wanting to fit in
  • Drug or alcohol abuse/addiction
  • Questioning their sexuality
  • Struggling with porn addiction
  • Pressure to always look put together and perform well in school
  • Pressure from peers to do drugs, drink, have sex
  • Victim of bullying/cyber bullying
  • Unhealthy romantic relationship(s)
  • High-conflict friendships/relationships with family members or caregivers
  • The thinking that exploitation doesn’t happen in the neighborhood; a “that doesn’t happen to us” mindset
  • Pressure to own material items
  • Pressure to be involved in sexual activity at a young age
  • Glamorization of violence and drug use

Learn more vulnerabilities, common scenarios of trafficking, and potential red flags:
Know the Signs

Love146 has a free guide for professionals that covers what you can do to protect children from exploitation. The topics covered include:

  • Examples of what child sex trafficking looks like
  • What makes children vulnerable to trafficking
  • Stockholm syndrome and trauma bonds
  • Online exploitation
  • How to respond to disclosures

Guide for Professionals

In-depth information about online safety:
Online Safety Guide

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