Did you know you can combat human trafficking just by people-watching while traveling?
Here are some basic tips for spotting human trafficking while just chillin’ on the airplane, drinking your $7 cup of mediocre wine. This was told to me by a State of Texas policy advisor on child trafficking.
The following list will describe child-trafficking, because this was his expertise, but understand this can happen to adults also.
Spotting Human Trafficking As A Traveler On An Airplane
- The child is accompanied by a person who appears to be a dominant figure, is usually of a different ethnicity, not dressed in the same types of clothing, and has a large age difference.
- The child appears withdrawn and the child and adult do not engage in much dialogue.
- The child is inappropriately dressed for the weather and has little to no personal belongings.
- The adult pays for everything and answers for the child.
- The child appears disheveled, nervous, scared, and feels uncomfortable speaking or answering questions.
- A minor is with her “boyfriend” or “girlfriend” who appears controlling and shows signs of physical and verbal abuse.
Spotting Human Trafficking As A Traveler In A Hotel
- The same as above AND…
- The child does not have any form of identification.
- The child checks in at midnight on a school night and avoids eye contact.
- The adult pays for the hotel in cash.
- There are different people entering the hotel room or waiting outside of the hotel room.
The hotel is usually the last time a child is seen and the last chance before he/she can be recovered.
Most Common Places To Spot Human Trafficking While Traveling
- California, Florida, and Texas are main hubs for human trafficking in 2017.
- Human trafficking picks up around large events such as the Superbowl and the Olympics.
Actions Travelers Can Take To Prevent Human Trafficking
Once you know what to look for, spotting it isn’t the hard part. Honestly once you see it, you will probably feel very uncomfortable with the situation automatically. However, knowing what to do once you spot it is the stressful part. Here is a list of what you can do:
- Always remember to NEVER ATTEMPT TO RESCUE THE CHILD. This puts the child in direct danger.
- Record the flight number, airport of departure and landing of your flight.
- Record the seat number of the potential human trafficker and child.
- If possible, take a photo without drawing attention to yourself. If you can’t do this discretely DO NOT DO IT AT ALL. Instead record tattoos, distinct physical features, and birthmarks.
- Report your suspicions IMMEDIATELY to a flight attendant, gate attendant, or the front desk lobby. They are usually trained to deal with this and will call the proper authorities.
- Call the National Sex Trafficking Hotline: 1 (888) 373-7888 and report the same thing
- THEN LET IT GO. That’s all you can do. Now let it go.
- To be proactive without spotting human trafficking, upload a picture of your hotel room to Traffick Cam, where these photos will be used to determine where perpetrators of sex trafficking are committing their crimes
Human trafficking is a global problem, but The Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report for 2012 states that the United States is a top “source, transit and destination country for men, women and children–both U.S. citizens and foreign nationals–subjected to forced labor, debt bondage, involuntary servitude and sex trafficking.” Please understand this post is specific to The United States and does not apply for any other country. In addition, while these tips were from an expert, the editor of this website is not an expert and therefore cannot answer any questions related to this topic.
For more information, check out the largest resource on human trafficking in the USA here.
If you are an expert in human trafficking and have more tips, please 1) identify yourself and your credentials 2) drop your tips in the comments below.
You are appreciated and your work is important.