What IS Trafficking?

Adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2000 and accepted by over 150 countries, the Palermo Protocols defines human trafficking as:

“The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation.”


  • Scripted answers
  • Inconsistencies in story
  • Branding or tattoos, especially that reflect ownership or money
  • Bruising, with varied stages of healing with black, purple, blue, yellow shades
  • Cigarette burns, rope burns, scars, cuts or other physical abuse
  • Coming on to several men
  • Appears helpless, shamed, nervous
  • Malnourished
  • Inability or fear to make eye contact
  • Chronic runaway; homeless youth
  • Dating much older, abusive or controlling man
  • Not attending school or has numerous school absences
  • Sudden change in attire, possessions, behavior
  • Travels to other cities frequently
  • Uses terms common to the commercial sex industry

On its own, one of these signs might not indicate trafficking, but 2-3 together are a good indication. The average life expectancy for a child forced into sexual slavery is 7 years. Don’t wait. Call the National Human Trafficking Hotline, 1.888.373.7888, if you suspect something. It’s better to be wrong than not to report it.