The Sex Trafficking Of Minors: What Signs Should Safe Adults Know?

A man in South Carolina was charged with "three counts of sex trafficking by force, fraud or coercion, one count of sex trafficking of a minor, two counts of interstate travel in aid of racketeering and one count of obstructing a sex trafficking investigation."

The indictment states that the 26-year-old man from Greenville "used force, threats of force and coercion to compel three adult women to engage in commercial sex". He is charged with sex trafficking a minor victim.

If he is convicted of sex trafficking of a minor, he faces a minimum penalty of 10 years in prison and up to life imprisonment.

Office of Public Affairs, U.S. Department of Justice "South Carolina Man Charged with Sex Trafficking of Four Victims, including a Minor" (Jul. 25, 2023).


Commentary and Checklist


Safe adults can help protect children and interrupt sex trafficking by knowing the signs of sex trafficking of minors and reporting what they observe to law enforcement, if they have a reasonable suspicion that sexual trafficking has occurred, is occurring, or is about to. Allow law enforcement to investigate to make the determination if sexual trafficking is occurring.

What are signs of possible sex trafficking of a minor?

  • The minor appears malnourished; has poor physical or dental health
  • The minor has physical injuries, tattoos, or brandings on the neck or lower back
  • The minor has a sexually transmitted disease or is pregnant
  • The minor lacks personal belongings; clean or appropriate clothing for the weather
  • The minor lacks official identifying documents
  • The minor seems fearful, submissive, or tense, avoiding eye contact or social interaction, especially with authority figures or law enforcement
  • The minor is silent or seems scripted, if they do speak; minor defers to an adult before interacting
  • The minor cannot explain who they are with or why
  • The minor is seen checking into motels with older adults, usually, but not exclusively males
  • The minor is never seen alone in public
  • The minor lives in a place with bars over the windows or barbed wire on top of a fence
  • The minor lives where they work
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