26 Actions You Can Take to Help End Child Trafficking

Are you like many who have heard the facts on child trafficking and felt immobilized? The issue is huge and complex, but there are many actions you can take to help reduce child trafficking. If we all take even the smallest action, we can turn the tide to prevent child trafficking!

1. Know the Signs

The first thing you can do is to know the signs of trafficking. The presence of these red flags does not always mean the child is a trafficking victim, but they do serve as clues. Attend a free training to get in-depth training on detection and prevention of child trafficking!

Red Flags:

Has a controlling “boyfriend” or “girlfriend” who is noticeably older

Inability to speak to individual alone

Individual cannot freely move about

Individual avoids eye contact when addressed

Doesn’t respond to questions or responses appear coached and rehearsed

Signs of physical abuse, hunger, sleep deprivation or drug addiction

Bruises in various states of healing. May attempt to conceal injuries.

Makes references to frequent travel to other cities

Acts uncharacteristically promiscuous and/or makes references to sexual situations

Signs of depression, anxiety & nervousness

Fearful and withdrawn

Name tattoos or other branding marks

Hotel keys and keycards in their possession

Prepaid cell phone

Lies about age or possesses fake ID

Unable or unwilling to give information about parents/guardian

Changes in school performance, attendance, hygiene habits, personality, friendships, or possessions

2. Know how to report

If you think you may have identified a victim, the first thing to do is to call the National Human Trafficking Hotline 1.888.373.7888. If someone is in immediate danger, call 911. Never try to intervene in a situation by yourself. When working with a potential victim, avoid judgmental reactions, avoid interrupting, and remain calm, focused and respectful. Do not ask a barrage of questions. Give control of the conversation to the child and reassure them that they are not to blame. Focus on the child’s strength in confiding in you and offer to pause if the child begins to feel stressed.

3. Stay Alert

When in a public place, be observant. Be aware of the people that are around you and look out for suspicious activity. Have the National Human Trafficking Hotline programmed into your phone to be ready in case you notice something off.

4. Get Informed on the Causes

Dive deeper into the issue to discover what factors contribute to victimization, what makes youth vulnerable, what factors are protective for youth, and what factors impact demand and the buyers. By understanding the underlying causes of child trafficking, community prevention plans can be made. PACT uses the most up-to-date scientific literature on child trafficking to inform our online resources. Stay informed with our events, blog articles, resources, and facts page!

5. Spread the word in your community

Before someone can take action, they must be aware that child trafficking is an issue in their community. Raise awareness in your community by talking to your friends, neighbors and co-workers. Share information and events on social media to get the word out about the issue. You can even help organize a training for your community! If you’re a student, consider becoming a PACT Ambassador to join other young leaders in a project-based campaign to inform the community about child trafficking.

6. Talk to your kids

Kids need to know how traffickers groom and recruit their victims and the consequences involved. Talk to your kids about what trafficking is, how traffickers recruit, and how to spot and report a situation safely. The more informed our youth are, the better able they will be to resist trafficking and look out for their peers.

7. Practice positive parenting

Be wary of enforcing strict rules without being involved with your kids (authoritarian parenting), or of being very involved without strict rules (indulgent parenting). Instead, try an authoritative approach. Authoritative parenting is marked by high involvement with the children and consistent enforcement of reasonable rules. Authoritative parenting is most effective at creating resilient children who are less likely to engage in risk behaviors. Spend quality time getting to know your kids. Communicate clear expectations, especially around online activities, and explain your reasoning behind your expectations.

8. Reach out to State and National Representatives

Keep up to date on Federal and State legislation that relates to to child trafficking, then let your representatives know that you care about their vote. Ask your representatives to ammend Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act to hold websites accountable for facilitating child trafficking here. Right now when anyone buys a device that connects to the internet, explicit material and prostitution hubs are one easy click away. Ask your representatives to consider default filters and learn more about the Human Trafficking Prevention Act here.

9. Volunteer

There are many opportunities to volunteer with non-profit organizations like PACT. You can help out at awareness raising events and drives, or go even further and get certified to host trainings for the community. There is an opportunity for everyone to get involved! Reach out today if you’re interested in making an impact!

10. Mentor a youth

A meaningful relationship with a trusted adult is a major protective factor for at-risk youth. Spend quality time with the youth in your life and consider mentoring at-risk youth in the community. There are several organizations in the Austin area including Explore Austin, Austin Partners in Education, Boys and Girls Club, Friends of the Children, and Southwest Key Youth Mentoring

11. Sign your workplace up for a training

Businesses can play a huge role in detection. Encourage your employer to sign up for a free training to equip all employees with the skills to identify, report, and prevent child trafficking.

12. Support victims

Support victims by donating to shelters like this one in Houston to cover their needs, which include clothing, food, housing, job training, and medical care.

13. Monitor your children’s online behavior

Risky online behavior, such as having social media accounts that give too much information or communicating with strangers, raises the risk of victimization. Monitor your kid’s online use and consider installing filters to block explicit content. There are various apps like My Mobile Watchdog that give you access to text messages, web activity, the ability to block numbers and websites and the ability to locate your child through GPS. Do remember, though, that most filters set up through your WIFI can be bypassed by using cellular data. The best prevention is to set clear expectations and communicate your reasons for the expectations with your child.

14. Learn Self-defense and Awareness Skills

Victims often find themselves in dangerous situations both with traffickers and buyers. Many have not been trained in self-defense. Simple self-defense and awareness skills are like insurance. Most likely, you and those you love will never be in a threatening situation. If you are, though, self-defense skills can mean the difference between escaping safely or not. Sign up for a self-defense class to learn and share these important skills!

15. Take a Spiritual Stance

If you are a religious or spiritual person, pray about the issue or consider doing a Bible study on the topic to explore the spiritual issues at play. Get your church or religious organization involved and organize a training!

16. Buy Consciously

Child sex trafficking is more common than child labor trafficking in the U.S., but labor trafficking does happen (mainly in agriculture). Get informed about U.S. child labor here and use this feature to determine which products around the world are produced with child labor.

17. Seek help for pornography/prostitution addiction

The link between pornography use and purchasing sex is significant. Pornography often serves as a “grooming” device, making it more likely that the user will purchase sex. Many buyers are not necessarily seeking out children. Child trafficking is embedded within the commercial sex industry, with many minors advertised as 18 or older. Therefore, the issue is not just of pedophiles actively seeking children but of all who purchase sex. If you or someone you know is struggling with pornography/prostitution addiction, reach out today about PACT’s presentation of the Conquer Series.

18. Support local afterschool programs

For youth, extra-curricular involvement, especially in leadership and service organizations is protective. Consider enrolling your children in pro-social activities and support afterschool programs in the community to provide a safety net for youth.

19. Support your local school

The culture and quality of a school can have a huge effect on the youth that attend. Schools with a positive culture and high engagement are protective against many risk behaviors, including trafficking victimization. Be involved in your local schools by joining organizations like the PTA and staying up to date with the activities of the school board. Support policies that respect each student and provide opportunities for students to amend their mistakes.

20. Know your neighbors

Connected communities are better able to battle the issues that plague them. Get to know the people that live around you by organizing gatherings or simply introducing yourself.

21. Spread love

A major risk factor for victimization is feeling unloved. Do what you can to spread kindness throughout the community. Even small acts can make a huge difference in someone’s life!

22. Stand up to toxic myths

There are several toxic myths that when believed, create a culture where child trafficking can thrive. Speak out and challenge these toxic ideas when you hear them. Only by offering a voice of dissent can we begin to dismantle these damaging beliefs and eliminate child trafficking. 

23. Reject toxic popular media

Our popular culture often sends messages that exacerbate the issue of sex trafficking. Pay attention to the messages that the media is sending. Discuss and reject media that objectifies women, glamorizes pimp culture, and promotes instrumental attitudes towards sex (primarily physical and casual).

24. Believe victims

Many victims are reluctant to come forward or testify due to fear, stigma, low societal support for victims, and negative reactions to disclosure. When someone opens up about abuse that they have suffered, give them the benefit of the doubt and believe them. Then take steps to help them get the assistance they need.

25. Vote

Use your vote to help get people in office that will fight to end child trafficking. Get informed on each candidate’s history of voting on related matters and get to the polls for both local and national elections.

26. Support Organizations like PACT

There are many organizations working across the country to combat child trafficking. Consider supporting organizations with your time or donation to help organizations like ours complete our mission of ending child trafficking.