As July 30, “World Day Against Trafficking in Persons,” approaches, the NTIC encourages the public to be aware of the signs of human trafficking, raise awareness, and report suspected incidents. Sex trafficking is widely underreported due to a lack of awareness and the underground nature of the crime. As a result, residents of the District and National Capital Region (NCR) who see the common indicators and red flags detailed below should not hesitate to report their suspicions to law enforcement.
Traffickers frequently target runaway and homeless youth, as well as victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, or social discrimination. The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) estimates that in 2018 about 15 percent of the more than 23,500 endangered runaways nationwide became victims of child sex trafficking. Nationally the average age of a victim is 15. Historically, most victims of sex trafficking have been female, but the number of male victims is increasing, jumping from one to five percent of victims reported within the past two years, according to NCMEC.
In the first six months of 2018, the National Human Trafficking Hotline received 43 reports of human trafficking in the District. However, the NTIC assesses there were probably more victims and incidents in the District due to the public’s lack of awareness regarding indicators and red flags. According to a 2016 study of human trafficking in the District, most victims were black females in their teens and 20s.
In May, law enforcement arrested two traffickers in two major human trafficking cases involving minors in the District. In one case, the trafficker recruited underage victims with the promise of earning $1,000 a day by stripping and sex “dates” with customers. The individual was charged in DC District Court with Sex Trafficking of Children; Sex Trafficking by Force, Fraud, Or Coercion; and Obstruction of Justice charges.
Sex Trafficking Indicators : While no single indicator confirms child sex trafficking, the presence of several raises the likelihood of child exploitation.
Possessing tattoos on the neck or lower back that the child is reluctant to explain;
Coping with an overly controlling or abusive partner;
Hanging out with older males—often referred to as “boyfriend” or “daddy”;
Having unexplained money and expensive gifts, particularly cellphones;
Frequently running away from school and home;
Being on the street unsupervised at night;
Appearing malnourished or having poor physical/dental health;
Avoiding social interaction and authority figures (i.e. school resource officers);
Possessing a hotel/motel key card;
Dressing inappropriately for their surroundings and/or the weather; and
Acting in scripted or rehearsed manner and/or avoiding eye contact.
Report Suspicious Activity
For immediate threats or emergencies call 911.
To report in progress non-emergency suspicious activity or behavior, call (202)727-9099 or report online at iWATCH.
To report a human trafficking incident, call the MPD/FBI Child Exploitation Task Force at (202) 576-6768, OR
Report an incident to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children CyberTipline.