Aug 09, 2011
by April Hedrick

Would you notice a slave in your neighborhood?

How would you answer this question? Perhaps with a more fundamental question- “Are there even slaves in my neighborhood?” (Almost certainly there are.) Or perhaps an honest, “I might, if I were willing to look at those around me.” Or perhaps you are willing to get involved but need more information, some common indicators to look for.

Polaris Project has put together a detailed list called “Recognizing the Signs” that helps us answer the question I’ve posed and hopefully will help all of us feel more confident that, yes, we would notice a person being victimized in our own neighborhood. If more and more of us know what to look for it seems clear that more people will be identified and can be freed from their captors.

Polaris Project is a key organization in the fight against slavery in the United States. They have done great work through legislative means and raising awareness. And especially important is their creation and operation of the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline: 1-888-3737-888. The Polaris Project website has a wealth of information, including state-specific resources. And the “Recognizing the Signs” article I’m referencing is really helpful.

The list is extensive and worth the time to read. Here is just a small excerpt giving key points to consider when assessing whether or not an individual has been trafficked: (for the complete story click here and go to “Recognizing the signs”)


• is not free to leave or come and go as he/she wishes
• Is under 18 and is providing commercial sex acts
• Is in the commercial sex industry and has a pimp / manager
• Is unpaid, paid very little, or paid only through tips
• Works excessively long and/or unusual hours
• Is not allowed breaks or suffers under unusual restrictions at work
• Owes a large debt and is unable to pay it off
• Was recruited through false promises concerning the nature and conditions of his/her work
• High security measures exist in the work and/or living locations (e.g. opaque windows, boarded up windows, bars on windows, barbed wire, security cameras, etc.)

Jot down the number now- You never know, you might be the one person who can help save a victim. 1-888-3737-888.

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