Be aware of the signs of human trafficking

Published 9:30 am Saturday, January 7, 2023

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By Olivia Johnson

January is National Human Trafficking Prevention Month.

According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, U.S. law defines human trafficking as the use of force, fraud, or coercion to compel a person into sexual acts, labor or services against his or her

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In this day and age being aware of your surroundings plays a huge part in not only personal safety of the safety of vulnerable individuals in marginalized communities. Regardless of personal or professional background, everyone can help prevent human trafficking.

Harmony House’s Education and Prevention coordinator Kari Jones said human trafficking can happen to anyone. The key is to be aware of your surroundings.

“Trafficking doesn’t discriminate against race, color, disability, gender, sexual orientation, anything like that, but usually the victims of this tend to be women,” Jones said.

Jones said roughly 70 percent of human trafficking victims are vulnerable individuals from marginalized communities. For example, those who may be homeless, a juvenile runaway, or an immigrant might be more susceptible to trafficking.

According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, traffickers employ a variety of control tactics, with the most common being physical and emotional abuse, threats and isolation from loved ones.

Jones said there are things to look for in someone who may be a victim. She said two signs are if they have an older person buying them expensive things (grooming) or look to another person for permission to answer questions. She also said the most important thing is to be aware of your surroundings.

“Trafficking can happen anywhere,” Jones said. “Trust your gut and keep an eye out for those who are vulnerable.”

The National Human Trafficking Hotline advises people and communities to:

  • Partner with survivors. People who have experienced human trafficking have perspectives and expertise that can be essential to the success and impact of anti-trafficking programs and initiatives in communities.
  • Prevent with equity. While anyone can experience human trafficking, it affects different communities in different ways and unfairly impacts those who are marginalized and underserved.
  • Report human trafficking concerns. Professionals who work with women, children and families are the best resources to help identify and report possible trafficking.

If you or someone you know has experienced human trafficking and needs support, contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline by calling 1-888-373-7888 or texting 233733. Email is also available at

For more information on Harmony House, visit