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
- Feels misunderstood
- 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
- Past trauma
- Poor attachment
- 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
- Missing child
Sex Trafficking Red Flags:
- Exaggerated startle response
- No identification
- Lack of knowledge of whereabouts
- Inconsistent stories
- 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.
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Be part of the solution! It’s with the dedication of our supporters that we are able to prevent sex trafficking and provide care for children who have been exploited. Whether you want to volunteer your time, voice, or resources, we’ve made it easy find a way to get involved with Hoʻōla Nā Pua.
Donations to Ho`ōla Nā Pua support prevention, intervention, empowerment, and healing for our youth. Our Federal ID number (EIN) is 46-5139164. Your gift may be 100% deductible from your taxable income.