Learn more about Trafficking in West Michigan

Trafficking in West MichiganRisk Factors  •  Identifying Victims  •  Questions to Ask

Risk Factors for West Michigan Youth


  • Poverty can be defined both economically and emotionally. Children that do not have emotionally supportive and loving families and supports will look for those characteristics from those who promise it to them.
  • Poor communities are targeted by traffickers who offer children new clothing, jewelry and cash in an effort to trap their victims.
  • Most American children who are sexually exploited live below the poverty line. If a person doesn’t have much and someone offers them more, they will most likely take the “better “.

Homeless and Runaway Children

  • 1 in 3 runaways will be approached by a trafficker within 48 hours.
  • There are more than 2 million runaway/throwaway children in America.
  • The LGBT population makes up a disproportionate amount of the homeless youth population

Substance abuse

  • Drugs may be used as a reward, punishment or way to decrease the victim’s will to resist trafficking and abuse.
  • Children who escape this trauma with drugs and alcohol are often controlled by traffickers with these substances.
  •  In many cases of familial sex trafficking, the trafficker who is often a parent or adult, may sell their child or other family member for drugs.


Identifying Victims

  • Being a runaway
  • Hotel room keys
  • Fake ID's and/or No ID
  • Stunted growth
  • Truancy
  • Substance Abuse
  • Lying about age
  • Poor Medical History
  • 'Dating' an older, controlling man
  • Multiple Pregnancies
  • STDs
  • Rotting teeth
  • Consistent need for pregnancy tests
  • Broken bones
  • Excessive money or jewelry
  • Multiple abortions
  • Branding
  • Fertility/Reproductive Health Issues
  • Tattooing (specifically of a trafficker's name)
  • Malnutrition


Questions to Ask

  • Can you leave your situation if you want?
  • Are there locks on your doors and windows to keep you from leaving?
  • Can you come and go as you please?
  • Do you have to ask permission to eat, sleep or go to the bathroom?
  • Have you been threatened if you try to leave?
  • Have you been physically harmed in any way?
  • Is anyone forcing you to do anything that you do not want to do?
  • Where do you sleep and eat?
  • What do you do to have a roof over your head?
  • Have you ever been deprived of food, water, sleep or medical care?
  • Has your identification or documentation been taken away from you?