What is Human Trafficking?

According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, human trafficking is a form of modern slavery (stealing freedom for profit) that occurs in every state, including Missouri.

A trafficker can be anyone, male or female. Sometimes traffickers know their victims already, other times they meet them in person or online. Often times there is a "grooming process" where a trafficker builds a relationship and emotional connection with a potential victim. Traffickers may use personal or private information that was shared during the grooming process to later exploit their victims.

Youth at Risk

Traffickers often prey on vulnerable youth, luring them to perform sex acts or acts of labor through false promises, threats, or threats of harm to those they love. Youth who are middle-school or high-school aged are typically most at risk. Several other risk factors can make children more vulnerable to trafficking, including:

  • Single-parent homes
  • Minimal supervision
  • Low self-esteem
  • Lack of a strong social network
  • Unsupervised online time
  • Focusing on friendships and connections made online
  • Not going to school
  • Youth in foster care or juvenile justice systems
  • Youth who frequently run away from home
  • Youth with a history of childhood abuse (physical, emotional or sexual), sexual assault, or rape, especially when unreported
  • Youth experiencing or living with someone with substance use issues

To learn more about risk factors and how to recognize warning signs, visit the National Human Trafficking Hotline.

Safety Tips for Youth

Online Safety

Online Safety

  • Do not respond to strangers online
  • Block anyone online that makes you feel uncomfortable
  • Delete any explicit images sent to you and do not share or forward
  • Report any inappropriate or threatening messages to a trusted adult
General Safety

General Safety

  • Trust your gut
  • Carry your phone and important numbers with you at all times
  • Do not go to unfamiliar places, especially alone
  • Make sure someone you trust always knows where you are going
  • Avoid situations or people that could be harmful or dangerous
Out with Friends

Out with Friends

  • Ask friends to keep cell phones nearby in case you are separated
  • Make sure your friends know how to contact you and your family
  • Be aware of how to leave any situation safely in case of emergency
  • If you’re ever uncomfortable, leave