The holiday season is a time of joy, happiness, and fun. It’s the time of year to bond with friends, family, and loved ones. However, for human trafficking victims, the holidays are no different from any other day.  

According to the United Nations, more than 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders every year. It’s no secret that the holiday season is one of the busiest travel times of the year. It’s also easy for traffickers to blend in with the holiday crowd. While this is disturbing news, many businesses from airlines to hotels, even trucking companies are training their employees to spot and stop human traffickers.  

This holiday season, there are many organizations including B.E. A S.H.E.R.O Foundation that are providing trafficking victims and people in need with hygiene kits, and beneficial resources to enhance their quality of life.  However, this holiday season, we need your help. Give the gift of saving a life.  While we are not asking you to be a law enforcer, that’s what the local police are for, we are asking that you remain alert, aware, and encourage you to report any suspicious activity. Whether it’s a hotel, an airport, or anywhere during your travels, please keep an eye out for human trafficking victims.  Here are some ways you can spot human traffickers during your holiday travels.

Older people traveling with younger children- An older person that is traveling with young children that don’t appear to be related. Sometimes a human trafficker will travel with children that speak a different language. These children often looked worried and confused.

Closely guarded– Traffickers want to make sure their victims don’t escape. Therefore, they will closely guard their victim, not allowing them to roam freely in the airport or anywhere.

Signs of physical abuse: Children who are trafficked may have bruises, burns, and scars.  They also may look malnourished. 

They don’t know details of their itinerary – Traffickers will avoid providing their victims with any documentation of where their victims are going. They want to make sure the victims are enslaved.

Limited interaction with others- A victim of human trafficking will rarely look you in the eye and avoid any casual conversation. Some traffickers coach their victims on what to say and how to act during travel to ensure they don’t escape.

Tattoos– While tattoos are not uncommon, many traffickers feel like they own their victims and need to brand them. If you see a tattoo of a name, barcode, symbol, or even the word “Daddy”,  that may be a sign that this person is a human trafficking victim.

If you suspect someone is a victim of human trafficking, please call the local police immediately. They will be able to investigate and you can enjoy your holiday knowing you did a good deed and potentially saved someone from the horrors of human trafficking.

If you notice any suspicious activity, call the National Human Trafficking Line:  1-888-373-7888 or SMS: 233733 ( Text ‘HELP” or ” INFO”).  

If it’s an emergency, call 911 immediately.