To understand this tragedy called sex trafficking, and to help vulnerable youth, it’s important that we all understand how trafficking comes to be and how it works.
How sex trafficking come to be and how it works
These youth are often young girls and boys who have run away from abusive or painful situations at home and are quickly picked up by traffickers. These traffickers don’t fit a simple stereotype, they can be male or female, boyfriend or uncle, sister, or aunt. The victims as well as the traffickers also represent every social, ethnic, and racial group.
Traffickers use emotional, financial, or addictive substances to entice and control. The emotional bond is one of the strongest with the young girls – they are promised love, marriage, or a lifestyle they don’t currently have. Others are promised basic needs such as food, shelter, or clothing, and many are approached at malls, movie theaters, or schools.
How do you know if someone is being trafficked?
It’s important to understand the signs of sex trafficking. Homelessness, poverty, domestic violence, run-aways, substance abuse, and mental or physical disabilities are all circumstances that attract traffickers. Pre-teen or adolescent girls are most susceptible to these forms of manipulation. This is why traffickers target locations where youth spend their free time, such as schools, malls, parks, bus stops, shelters and group homes.
What to look for in targeted youths:
Under 18 years old
Feels insecure, low self-esteem
Fights with their parents
Feels parents don’t care
Desire for love and acceptance
Desire for independence
Tests boundaries and takes risks
Access to a computer/smartphone
Attracted to consumer goods
Walks to school or to the store alone
Lack of a support system
History of violence or physical, sexual, emotional abuse or neglect
Mental health or substance abuse issues
Involvement in the Juvenile Justice System
Large family (lack of attention)
Absent father (physically or emotionally)
Family dysfunction, breakdown, poverty
Family, community, or societal sexualization
Prostitution in the neighborhood
Love for a pimp
Sex Trafficking Red Flags:
Exaggerated startle response
Lack of knowledge of whereabouts
Does not make eye contact with males
Submissive, fearful, or uncooperative
Discrepancies in reported age
Evidence of controlling or dominant relationship; or significantly older intimate partner
Unhealthy attachment to or secrecy around computer, phone, or gaming
If you or someone you know needs help, call the HNP Helpline at 808-435-9555.
We are thrilled to announce another major milestone! Just this summer, Hoʻōla Nā Pua was conditionally approved to st
August 12, 2014
“Ho`ōla Nā Pua, meaning ‘New Life for Our Children,’ was founded to shine light onto the dark criminal enterprise of sex trafficking, placing the health of Hawaii’s youth at the center of our mission and vision for our community.”