The Red Flags of Human Trafficking :: Keeping Your Student Safe


MKE Moms Blog and Exploit No More are partnering again this summer to bring you more education and parenting resources as it relates to the city of Milwaukee and human trafficking. We are excited to announce that our partnership will continue into the school year with a t-shirt campaign launching this fall to raise awareness and represent our support for our community and our kids.

Previous Posts :: 

Human Trafficking 101 | How Intentional Parenting Can Help Prevent Human Trafficking 

Human Trafficking

Our children’s safety makes the top of a mom’s priority list from the moment the line turns blue. We teach them to walk, eat, talk and engage in the world around them and at some point, they are mature enough to go out into that world without us holding their hand and that is both exhilerating and scary. When your child reaches middle and high school, the indepence they now have can be a challenge for parents to adjust to because we still want to keep them safe, but without smothering them. So, how does this relate to human trafficking? At the majority of places where we speak — corporations, schools, hotels — the presentation usually ends with questions about applying the information in personal life, not just work life. As we partnered with MkeMB this summer to talk about human trafficking, the most popular question is the same one that is asked while speaking to professionals; how do I keep my student safe? How do I talk to them about human trafficking?

Be Aware of the Red Flags of Human Trafficking

There are behavioral and physical indictors of the manipulative grooming process a trafficker uses when singling out a child as a victim. Often times, guardians on the outside looking in can see the red flags but the child cannot. Below are some of the red flags to look out for. Please note that these factors do not ALWAYS mean a trafficking situation is happening nor is this list complete. It outlines common factors that have been found through researching signs of trafficking. 

  • Changes in virtual behavior such as new profiles/groups/and online friends
  • Withdrawing from family and/or friends 
  • Not following house rules that they have followed in the past 
  • Appears depressed or quick to be angry or annoyed 
  • Changes in sleep pattern
  • Grades and performance begins to drop
  • Lying about age and identity; may have a fake ID that they aren’t able to explain  
  • Looks to others before answering questions directed towards them 
  • Tattoos that they aren’t able to explain or try to cover up 
  • A new cell phone that you didn’t provide 
  • Presence of an over controlling “boyfriend” often older or in college 

Exploit No MoreTeaching Your Young Person Awareness and Safety 

Knowing the red flags as parents is one thing but teaching awareness and safety to your middle or high school student is just as important. Teaching self-confidence and social awareness is a great first step, which reduces vulnerability to a potential trafficker. It’s also important to teach your children what the red flags are that you are aware of so that they can be aware of it in the lives of their peers. A few other key points that we tell parents are:

  • Teach internet safety and hold your child(ren) responsible for their social media accounts and how they act on the internet
  • Talk about healthy relationships and friendships 
  • Set boundaries and guidelines that are designed to keep your child safe but allow freedom of choice
  • Understand consent and talk to your student about it 
  • Communicate honestly and with an open mind

For More Information and Resources 

  • Where to start with understanding internet safety
  • Be aware of red flags and know the signs of a possible trafficking situation 
  • Check out this book about setting boundaries 
  • Polaris Project has a lot of great information about human trafficking across the United States if you’re looking for more education and statistics 
  • RAINN and Planned Parenthood have a lot of research and information about consent and healthy relationships
  • The Energy Project is a wonderful starting point for encouraging young people to use their passions for good; and a great resource for professionals and parents too!

Exploit No More Freedom Fighters

Freedom Fighters – A Volunteer Network with Exploit No More

Join our network of Freedom Fighters because we are stronger together! A Freedom Fighter is dedicated to caring about the issue, engaging with friends, family, and colleagues through educational awareness, and giving $30 per month – a dollar a day. Let’s be honest, I spend more on soy chais every month from Starbucks. The financial support of Freedom Fighters is vital to opening up our aftercare home and providing long-term counseling services to survivors and their families. 

Connect with ENM 

For more human trafficking resources and education and becoming a Freedom Fighter, find us across the socials (@exploitnomore on FacebookInstagramTwitter) and our website ( Contact us via email ([email protected]) with any specific questions/comments or want to chat further about volunteer opportunities


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