Modern slavery is the fastest-growing criminal industry in the world and generates more than $150 billion USD every year. As we settle into the new year, it’s important to recognize that January is not only a time for setting resolutions and goals—it’s also National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month.

Contrary to popular belief, this issue is not limited to faraway lands, but rather, it occurs right in our own communities. Yes, in our neighborhoods, schools, and even among our students. This is not meant to instill fear but to inspire action—a call to educate and empower ourselves and our students.

Know the ABC’s of Trafficking Victims

Look out for these red flags that may indicate someone is a victim of human trafficking:


  • Branding tattoos, often located on the temple, side or back of the neck, or across the chest
  • Signs of physical abuse including bruising, cuts, scars, etc.
  • Inappropriate clothing (ex. too big, overly sexualized, ragged)
  • Extreme fatigue or exhaustion
  • Lack of personal items or possessions
  • Poor personal hygiene


  • Disoriented or confused, possibly under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Fearful or timid
  • Looking to someone for permission to do simple tasks such as going to the bathroom
  • Lack of trust in authority figures
  • Lack of eye contact, gaze aversion


  • Lack of details about where they came from or where they are going
  • Being unaware of location or time
  • Being unable to provide information about where they are from
  • Indication that they are just “passing through”
  • Indication that someone else makes the decisions
  • Rehearsed/coached answers
  • Being nervous or angry when pressed for details
  • Lying (especially about age)
  • Being verbally vulgar when challenged by authority (flight or fight mentality)
#2 Know how to report.

If you observe these red flags and think someone is being trafficked:

  • Call 911
  • Tell the dispatcher you are reporting suspected human trafficking.
  • If the victim is a child, tell the dispatcher.

After you report to the police:

  • Call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline at 1-888-3737-888 OR text details to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at Befree (233733)

Other things you can do:

  • Be a good witness:
    • Look at details, like colors, vehicle descriptions, direction of travel, hotel room numbers, etc.
    • Look for tattoos, hair color, skin tone, body type (short, tall, slender, petite, stocky)
    • Listen for accents, language, etc.
    • Note possible number of persons
    • Take discreet photos without being caught

Things you should NOT do:

  • Don’t take photos if it puts you in danger
  • Never attempt to intervene or take the victim out of the situation by force. You could be putting yourself and them in danger.

By paying attention to these red flags and knowing how to report victims, you can save someone from a life of exploitation and horror.

This article had many pieces taken from our Red Flags course. Red Flags is a completely online, 2-hour course that trains individuals how to identify and report human trafficking as well as covering common misconceptions people have about modern-day slavery. If you would like to learn more about this course and receive more great information, visit