Human trafficking is the second largest and fastest growing criminal industry in the world according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Victims of trafficking are exploited for commercial sex or labor purposes through the use of force, fraud, or coercion. Lt. Terry Pasko from Akron Police Dept. reported at a 2012 workshop that approximately 100,000 – 300,000 underage children are being sold in America every year. Pasko indicated that the most likely victims of trafficking are “juveniles, those who’ve aged out of foster care and runaways.” In fact, according to the Ohio Attorney General, Ohio cited 13 years old as the most common age in Ohio for youth to become victims of child sex trafficking.
Due to the limited number of identified victims in Summit County, statistics about this heinous crime are unavailable to the general public.
If you or someone you know would like more information about the resources and providers in our community who are willing and able to help please check out our Resource Guide below!
Recognizing the Signs
Do you suspect that you or someone you know is being trafficked? Do you suspect that human trafficking happening in your community? Recognizing potential red flags and knowing the indicators of human trafficking is a key step in identifying victims and helping them find the assistance they need!
To request anonymous help or to anonymously report a suspected human trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (Polaris Project) Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 or text “HELP” to BeFree (233733).
The following is a list of potential red flags and indicators of human trafficking:
Common Work and Living Conditions: The Individual(s) in Question
- Is not free to leave or come and go as he/she wishes
- Is under 18 and is providing commercial sex acts
- Is in the commercial sex industry and has a pimp / manager
- Is unpaid, paid very little, or paid only through tips
- Works excessively long and/or unusual hours
- Is not allowed breaks or suffers under unusual restrictions at work
- Owes a large debt and is unable to pay it off
- Was recruited through false promises concerning the nature and conditions of his/her work
- High security measures exist in the work and/or living locations (e.g. opaque windows, boarded up windows, bars on windows, barbed wire, security cameras, etc.)
Poor Mental Health or Abnormal Behavior
- Is fearful, anxious, depressed, submissive, tense, or nervous/paranoid
- Exhibits unusually fearful or anxious behavior after bringing up law enforcement
- Avoids eye contact
Poor Physical Health
- Lacks health care
- Appears malnourished
- Shows signs of physical and/or sexual abuse, physical restraint, confinement, or torture
Lack of Control
- Has few or no personal possessions
- Is not in control of his/her own money, no financial records, or bank account
- Is not in control of his/her own identification documents (ID or passport)
- Is not allowed or able to speak for themselves (a third party may insist on being present and/or translating)
- Claims of just visiting and inability to clarify where he/she is staying/address
- Lack of knowledge of whereabouts and/or do not know what city he/she is in
- Loss of sense of time
- Has numerous inconsistencies in his/her story
This list is not exhaustive and represents only a selection of possible indicators. Also, red flags may not be present in all trafficking cases. Click here to learn more from the National Human Trafficking Resource Center.