Security Personnel should be familiar with key indicators and red flags associated with human trafficking. Because it is often difficult for trafficked children and youth to be able to express that they have been trafficked for fear of retaliation, it is important to recognize some signs highlighted by the District’s Child and Family Services Administration that victims present, including but not limited to:
- Tattoos on the neck or lower back that the child is reluctant to explain;
- Scars or signs of physical abuse;
- Fearful or anxious demeanor;
- An overly controlling or abusive partner;
- Youth who claim to be “just visiting” an area but cannot remember addresses;
- Youth who are dressed in inappropriate clothing (e.g. lingerie or other attire associated with the sex industry); and
- Youth in possession of hotel keys.
These are just some of many warning signs that Security Personnel should understand. While these signs do not always mean a youth is being trafficked, they are important physical, emotional, and social characteristics that may indicate vulnerabilities that require special attention.
Security Personnel should contact the Department at (202) 727-9099 or the Youth and Family Services Division at (202) 576-6768 should they encounter suspected cases of trafficking or as they have any questions or concerns. The Department can help connect trafficked youth with the appropriate resources and services available throughout the District.
This article is part of the MPD’s “Security Snapshot” series, which is designed for security personnel working in the District of Columbia. While this information may be of interest to the general public, any recommendations or guidance in these articles has been created with a focus on security personnel.