Although there is no standard profile of a child trafficking victim, several risk factors make certain children more susceptible (see Figure 1).32 Researchers have found that sex traffickers often target children and youth with a history of maltreatment, sexual abuse, low self-esteem, and minimal social support. Children and youth at risk of labor trafficking share many of the same risk factors; children who have recently migrated or relocated are at a heightened risk. It is important to remember that absence of these risk factors does not mean any particular child is not being trafficked. No two cases are precisely alike, and school staff should work hard to overcome any stereotypes they may harbor about the appearance of victims or traffickers. Risk factors common to both groups are in the middle column.
Figure 1. Risk Factors for Child Sex and Labor Trafficking
- Polaris Project. (2019). Child trafficking and the child welfare system. Polaris Project. https://polarisproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Child-Welfare-Fact-Sheet.pdf; Sprang, G., & Cole, J. (2018). Familial sex trafficking of minors: Trafficking conditions, clinical presentation, and system involvement. Journal of Family Violence, 33, 185–195. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10896-018-9950-y; NCAI Policy Research Center. (2016). Human & sex trafficking: Trends and responses across Indian country. Tribal Insights Brief. NCAI Policy Research Center. https://www.ncai.org/policy-research-center/research-data/prc-publications/TraffickingBrief.pdf; Franchino-Olsen, H. (2019). Vulnerabilities relevant for commercial sexual exploitation of children/ domestic minor sex trafficking: A systematic review of risk factors. Trauma, Violence & Abuse, 1–13. https://doi.org/10.1177/1524838018821956; National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. (2020). Child sex trafficking identification resource. National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. https://www.missingkids.org/content/dam/missingkids/pdfs/CST%20Identification%20Resource.pdf; Roe-Sepowitz, D., Bracy, K., & Hogan, K. (2020). Youth experiences survey: Exploring the human trafficking of homeless young adults in Arizona, year 6. Trust. https://trustaz.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/rr-youth-experiences-survey-stir-2019-yes-report.pdf; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Family and Youth Services Bureau. (2019). Human trafficking for runaway and homeless youth serving programs: A resource guide. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. https://www.rhyttac.net/assets/docs/Resources/HumanTraffickingResourceGuide-508.pdf; Gibbs, D. A., Feinberg, R. K., Dolan, M., Latzman, N. E., Misra, S., & Domanico, R. (2018). Report to Congress: The child welfare system response to sex trafficking of children. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families. https://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/documents/cb/report_congress_child_trafficking.pdf