Human trafficking is the crime of keeping a person in a commercial circumstance of severe exploitation through force, fraud, or coercion.

It reduces a person to a commodity to be bought, sold, exploited and abused and forces people to engage in commercial sex or to provide labor or services against their will.

Thousands of Northeast Ohio children, women, and men are enslaved to commercial sex or forced labor annually

Victims of Human Trafficking have been robbed of their autonomy and self-respect by traffickers that use violence, physical and emotional coercion, fraud, debt bondage and other means to subjugate their victims and exploit them for sex and labor commerce. 

These victims can be children, teens or adults, male or female, of any race or ethic group.  Human Trafficking happens in cities, in rural and urban areas, in lower income and upper income neighborhoods, on the streets and in the suburbs.

Human Trafficking is the fastest growing criminal industry in the world generating an estimated $ 9.5 billion in profits annually, with $ 3.5 billionin the US alone.

In the United States, a child is forced into Human Trafficking every 2 minutes on average.

12 - 14 is the average age of a trafficked victim in the U.S.

32% of victims are trafficked by members of their own families.

Nearly two-thirds of children sold for sex in the United States are trafficked online.

Deception is the primary method used by traffickers

Human Traffickers target children, teens, and adults who are vulnerable to exploitation. Both males and females can become victims. There are many different factors that can act to push people into a trafficking situation. Risk factors include neglect, abuse, early sexual initiation, drug addiction, repeatedly running away, LGTBQ orientation, and poverty. 

While drugs, threats and violence are often used to recruit and control victims, deception is the primary method used by traffickers. When targeting youth, traffickers may use a false, predatory romantic involvement; access to controlled/illicit substances; or offers of good or even glamorous employment, trips, or housing. Traffickers often study a potential victim, identify an unmet need or desire in that youth’s life, and target it specifically. 

The vast majority of human trafficking goes unreported and undetected

There are many roadblocks to victim identification. The majority of Human Trafficking victims do not self-identify as such. Many will actively deny that they are victims. Furthermore, the crime of Human Trafficking is often a hidden one. Many signs are misunderstood, unnoticed, or unrecognized.

Source: Human Trafficking Prevention Education Guidance for Implementation of Youth Programs August 2016, Ohio Attorney General Human Trafficking Commission


What is Human Trafficking and how we are helping to support efforts in combatting this crime.

Signs and indicators of Human Trafficking in children


·       Children who live at home with family and attend school

·       Children with unmet emotional needs

·       Unsuspecting or naïve children

·       Children from affluent homes

·       Children who are abused, neglected

·       Children who have run away from home


·       A child is forced into Human Trafficking every 2 minutes on average

·       12 - 14 is the average age of a trafficked victim, although children as young as 5 have been recovered

·       32% of victims are trafficked by members of their own families


·       Victims are enticed through a process called grooming

·       Traffickers often watch their victims from afar to determine their vulnerability before approaching them

·       They find a way to meet the child’s needs through some form of attention and affection, belonging and recognition

·       As the victim is lured in emotionally, the trafficker becomes increasingly more controlling

·       Traffickers often brand their victims as their property with tattoos, scars and burns

·       These captured children are typically moved to other states – often, sold to another prostitution operation – to ensure they are cut-off from anyone who could help them


·       School

·       Malls and shopping centers

·       House parties

·       Online – Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc.

·       Any place kids hang out


·       Sudden change in the child’s behavior – new older boyfriend, new friends, drop in grades, distancing themselves from their normal activities, and disciplinary issues at school

·       The child starts paying attention to the way they look and shows up with new clothes, new cell phone, manicure, etc.

·       Older boyfriend who suddenly begins paying for the child’s new look

·       Physical injuries include blistering of the feet, use of non-typical items to stop menstruation, bruising, scars and evidence of violence that they try to conceal

·       Expensive gifts, clothing, or other costly items with no valid explanation of their source

·       Demonstrates a sudden change in attire, behavior, relationships, or material possessions

·       Multiple cell phones computers and/or electronic devices

·       Changes in their attitude – resistant, not forthcoming, defensive, rude, evasive, aggressive

·       Changes in their demeanor – fear, anxiety, depression, submissive, tense, nervous, paranoid, hyper-vigilant

·       Pays particular attention to their phones, and/or receiving repeated calls and texts 

·       Withdrawal from family and former friends

·       Shows loyalty and positive feelings towards suspected trafficker 

·       Does not act like a typical victim

·       Displays over-sexualized behavior