August 12 is the International Youth Day. A day that all communities collectively come together to celebrate young people as they grow older each day, but some youth are struggling to see the light of the next morning.

Each year, 1.2 million children are trafficked. This devastating statistic makes us question where our focus lies.  It highlights our ability to overlook and turn our heads instead of digging in and fighting against the injustices of youth.

By keeping the conversation going and being aware of those around you, we shed light on these populations left in the shadows.  There are numerous high-risk groups for minors. It is true that ANY child can be trafficked; however, there are some notable indicators and patterns of the trafficked.

History of Abuse- Minors that have survived other forms of abuse in their lives are more likely to be entered into human trafficking. The abuse is often normalized therefore making the survivor feel as though they can justify the abuser’s actions.

Homelessness- When homeless, a child must find a way on their own to survive. This often leads to a trafficker manipulating children that are homeless into believing that their only way of survival is to follow the trafficker and do all that is asked of them in exchange for the essentials of living; wagering life or death.

Disabilities- Often, people that have disabilities might not always feel completely included in numerous activities. This allows for traffickers to capitalize on the uncertainty of themselves that is sometimes felt.

Sexuality- People of the LGBTQ+ community are at a higher risk of being trafficked. They are often time questioning more of themselves and are more willing to seek acceptance and support in someone, even if that someone does not have the best intentions for them.

Females- Statistics estimate that up to 97% of all sex trafficking victims are female. It is also discovered that 1 in every 6 females will be sexually assaulted or harassed before they turn 18. Females are thought of to be easy targets that are more willing to be coerced, frauded or forced.

Although, these traits and experiences are often shared between survivors, it is once again true that anyone can be trafficked. No matter their gender, race, or religion. These are merely populations that are more vulnerable.

Stay safe. Stay aware. Stay educated. Stay strong. 

Happy International Youth Day!