What You Should Know About Human Trafficking

What You Should Know About Human Trafficking
From the South Dakota West River Human Trafficking Task Force

What Is Human Trafficking?

The federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act defines human trafficking as:

"The recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act where such an act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person is induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age, or the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery."

Human trafficking can take many forms, such as domestic servitude; factory labor that resembles prisons; farm work by migrants.

A South Dakota Problem

South Dakota is a hot spot for men coming to the state for hunting, the Sturgis Bike Rally, and other tourism events and destinations. Traffickers routinely use casinos, truck stops, the internet, and other venues throughout the year.

According to several news reports, sex trafficking is an “infestation” in the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota which have several “Man Camps”. There is also a great concern of the large increase of registered sex offenders who relocated to the Bakken oil region to work.

Native American women and children on the reservations are also at high risk. According to the U.S. Attorney for South Dakota, Kevin Koliner, Native American women comprise 40 percent of sex trafficking victims in the state.

Interstates 90 and 29, and other highways that run through South Dakota, are part of the “Midwest Pipeline,” the superhighways used to deliver trafficking victims to cities across the country.

Signs of possible Trafficking

As with most red flags, these are not cause for concern or proof of anything alone, but once multiple red flags are showing up in one youth’s situation, that is when the warning bells should go off.

  • Has more than one cell phone
  • Has secret social media page (often with an alias)
  • Changes in attire, hair, makeup, nails; becoming significantly more sexualized
  • Has new boyfriend (may be significantly older) whose appearance coincides with other changes on this list, often not someone they go to school with or knew previously
  • Suddenly has expensive things
  • Has a dramatic change in behavior; becoming more secluded, see her less and less
  • Has stopped attending school
  • Tired during the day.
  • Appears disconnected from family, friends, community organizations, or houses of worship
  • Victims may still be in the home in the earlier stages of being trafficked — sneaking out at night for “dates” and even recruiting at school, but they will eventually go missing
  • Runs away from home or talks about doing so; returns with cash beyond what guardians/legal employment would provide
  • If already known to be posted in Backpage or similar site, shows inconsistency in age or other personal descriptions on multiple posts
  • Displays adult/pornographic images on social media with sex industry references or links to escort sites
  • Uses sex-industry specific language
  • Frequents casinos or associated hotels without plausible connection to legal gambling
  • Involved with gangs, drug and/or alcohol use, signs of physical abuse, tattoos or brands
  • Is a female that uses gang signs, has a gang-related tattoo, uses gang language, or glorifies gang lifestyle
  • Has a male’s “street” name/alias, or references to “daddy” or “King,” in a tattoo on neck or breast
  • Has “property of” bar codes, dollar signs, or “100” tattooed anywhere on body

What Parents Can Do

Preventing access to your child from potential predators and traffickers is the best measure.

  • Talk with your kids about only talking to people they personally know online.
  • Tell your kids to never send inappropriate photos to anyone.
  • Make sure you know your child’s passwords, usernames, nicknames, and email addresses.

For more information visit rallyforthechallenge.com.


National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline 1-888-373-7888

The National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) is a national, toll-free hotline, available to answer calls from anywhere in the country, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year.

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