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January is National Human Trafficking Prevention Month


Child sex trafficking hides in plain sight: on public transportation, in restaurants, hotels, ride-shares and across all types of communities. 

In 2019 alone, NCMEC responded to 10,719 reports of possible child sex trafficking. Although this number is staggeringly high, it also represents all the people who recognized the signs of this crime and took action to report it. Some signs of child sex trafficking include: 

  • A child is in possession of large amounts of cash, prepaid cards, hotel keys, or multiple cell phones
  • The child’s ID being held by another person, or not having any ID
  • Signs that the child has been coached when talking to people, letting others speak for them, or looking at others before they speak
  • Tattoos that indicate money or ownership, such as “$” or barcodes
  • Evidence that the child has been living out of a suitcase, at motels or in a car

January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month and there’s no better time to educate yourself on the vital issue of child sex trafficking. Being well-versed on how to identify, prevent and report this crime can save lives.

91% of the cases of missing children reported to NCMEC involve children who have run away.Runaway behavior is one of the stronger predictors of child sex trafficking risk.

Traffickers often target missing children with false promises of love, safety, and affection.  They take advantage of their need for food, clothing, money, and shelter.  

It happens to boys, too. Child sex trafficking knows no gender; this crime can happen to anyone, anywhere.

No child wants to be trafficked. This issue is about an adult preying on the vulnerabilities of kids, it’s not an issue of choice.  Children being bought and sold is not prostitution, it is child abuse.

NCMEC serves as a national clearinghouse for reports relating to child sex trafficking and assists law enforcement, first responders, and victim specialists relating to the identification, location, and recovery of child sex trafficking victims.

Every child deserves a safe childhood.  Here at NCMEC we take a comprehensive approach to combat this issue by providing missing child case management, analytical services to develop leads and victim support services.  These resources support law enforcement in their efforts to recover victims and build strong cases against those responsible for their victimization, while also providing families ongoing support and care as they suffer through and heal from this horrific crime. 

For more signs of child sex trafficking, go to


If you suspect an incident of child sex trafficking or slavery, call the NCMEC hotline at 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678). Don’t ask, “what if I’m wrong?” Ask, “what if I’m right?”