Human Trafficking

link to Virginia's coordinated response against human trafficking


Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery which affects individuals across the globe.  According to the U.S. federal definition, it involves three components:1

  • Act: "Recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services"
  • Means: "Use of force, fraud, or coercion"
  • Purpose: "Subjection to involuntary servitutde, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery."

Human trafficking is not the same thing as smuggling.  While human trafficking may involve transportation, it does not require transportation, travel, or movement as a necessary component.2  The focus of human trafficking is on compelled provision of labor and other services in a variety of industries.3


A common misconception is that human trafficking only affects foreign nationals.  However, victims can be men, women, and children who are U.S. citizens or documented as well as undocumented foreign nationals.Students who are most at risk for human trafficking, including prostitution, are those who are "not living with their parents."4 Students of all ages have been targeted "through telephone chat-lines, clubs, on the street, through friends, and at malls, as well as using girls to recruit other girls at schools and after-school programs."4 Some signs to look out for include:4

  • Frequent absences and truancy
  • Chronically running away from home
  • Making references to frequent travel to other cities
  • Exhibiting bruises or other physical trauma, withdrawn behavior, depression, or fear
  • Lacking control over her or his schedule or identification documents
  • Being hungry, malnourished, or inappropriately dressed (based on weather conditions or surroundings)
  • Showing signs of drug addiction

If you or someone you know is a victim of human trafficking and is in immediate danger, call 911 first. If you or the other individual is not in imminent danger, contact the National Human Trafficking Resource Center.

  • Hotline: 1-888-373-7888
  • Text: INFO or HELP to BeFree (2333733)
  • Report Online

This website contains information on Virginia statutes and research, as well as useful victim services re sources. It also provides useful resources for Virginia attorneys and law enforcement. The “Report on the      Human Trafficking Services Needs Assessment Survey” is recommended for those who would like to learn more about the needs of victims and service providers in Virginia.

The U.S. Department of State provides an annual Trafficking in Persons Report which looks at the state of trafficking in countries around the world. The web site also has many tips, resources, and Human  Trafficking Awareness Training, also    known as “TIP 101.”

This webpage  provides some common questions that are asked about human trafficking as well as T visas and the application process.

Polaris Project is  an organization determined to end human trafficking and is in charge of the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline. The website provides many useful services and resources, such  as: opportunities  to request speakers or trainings, access to online trainings, resources by state, and information about involvement opportunities.


122 U.S. Code § 7102. Definitions.

2Polaris Project. (2013). Human trafficking trends in the United States: National Human Trafficking Resource Center 2007-2012. Retrieved from

3U.S. Department of State. (2013). Trafficking in persons report. Retrieved from

4U.S. Department of Education Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools. (2007). Human trafficking of children in the United States: A fact sheet for schools. Retrieved from