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The reality and red flags of human trafficking

Published: Aug. 25, 2020 at 11:36 PM CDT
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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - There are plenty of proactive steps parents and other providers can take to better protect children from human trafficking.

We’re learning the number one target is run-a-way or homeless youth, but it can happen to anyone. Experts say it’s not usually a stranger that’s targeting children.

There is a push for parents to pay attention, ask questions and be involved.

A relative, neighbor or close family friend could all contribute to human trafficking.

Christina Wicks, with the Indiana Trafficking Victims Assistance Program, says grooming happens with vulnerabilities that are found in the targeted victim.

“So, they may say: ‘hey I really like the way you do your hair’,” Wicks explained. “They want to see how well they’re going to react to flattery.”

Red flags include branding or jewelry, sort of like a promise ring. It could also include similar or matching tattoos. Keep an eye out for multiple cell phones or goods that children likely wouldn’t be able to afford by themselves.

“Are they with, maybe, an adult that is very controlling and answering questions for them?” Wicks questioned. “Maybe don’t allow them to talk to too many people.”

With many schools now using virtual learning options, the threat of online predators increases.

Click here for more red flags and resources.

“Definitely pay attention to your kids and their online usage,” Wicks suggested. “We always encourage, if you can, put a computer in a neutral area within the family space so you can see some of the things they’re doing online. But, if they start requesting to be online a lot more than usual, maybe they’re cautious and not allowing you to see who they’re communicating with, maybe creating false accounts or different things you don’t have access to. Laptops are easy. If they hurry up and shut them when you’re walking in the door is a good indication that they’re up to something.”

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