It is hard to believe that such a heinous crime against children exists not only in our country but also within our schools.  Sex trafficking robs children of all of their hopes and dreams and leaves them feeling powerless. School personnel are in a unique position to identify and report suspected abuse and connect students to services-actions that can prevent trafficking and perhaps save lives. Everyone who is part of the school community-administrators, teachers, bus drivers, maintenance personnel, food service, resource officers-has the potential to be an advocate for child victims of human trafficking.

This information will help the school community to know the warning signs of human trafficking and how to respond.

How do I Identify a Victim of Human Trafficking?

A Victim:

  • Has unexplained absences from school for a period of time, and is therefore a truant.
  • Demonstrates an inability to attend school on a regular basis
  • Chronically runs away from home
  • Makes references to frequent travel to other cities
  • Exhibits bruises or other physical trauma, withdrawn behavior depression, or fear
  • Branding or tattoo with a bar code, family name or symbol
  • Lacks control over her or his schedule or identification documents
  • Is hungry-malnourished or inappropriately dressed (based on weather conditions or surroundings)
  • Shows signs of drug addiction

Additional signs that may indicate sex-related trafficking include:

  • Demonstrates a sudden change in attire, behavior or material possessions (e.g. has expensive items)
  • Makes references to sexual situations that are beyond age-specific norms
  • Has a boyfriend who is noticeably older (10+ years)
  • Makes references to terminology of the commercial sex industry that are beyond age specific norms; engages in promiscuous behavior and may be labeled by peers.

Department of Health and Human Services

NOTE: It is important to note that this list is not comprehensive of all signs of human trafficking, nor are all students who exhibit these signs most certainly trafficking victims. The list is meant to be a guide to help determine if further action is appropriate.

For more information on schools, visit the Texas School Safety Center website 

Rivers of Justice has a presentation designed specially for school personnel, which can be used for continuing education units (CEU’s). Please contact us to request a speaker.