If You are in Danger and Need Immediate Help:
- Call 9-1-1 for the local police department
- Contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline:
- Call: 1-888-373-7888 (TTY: 711)
- Text: 233733
- Chat Online: Human Trafficking Hotline Web Chat
The Texas Human Trafficking Resource Center connects Health and Human Services staff, health care providers, stakeholders and those who have experienced human trafficking to resources needed to locate services, help prevent trafficking, and recognize and respond to potential trafficking situations.
HHSC launched a new donation account to raise funds to provide dedicated housing and treatment services to youth who have experienced human trafficking. To donate, visit the Stop Human Trafficking Donation Service website.
What Is Human Trafficking?
Human trafficking is a crime that involves exploiting a person for labor, services or commercial sex. The United States Department of Justice classifies human trafficking into two major categories:
- Sex trafficking is the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, obtaining, patronizing or soliciting of a person for the purposes of a commercial sex act, in which the commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act is 17 or younger.
- Labor trafficking involves the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision or obtainment of a person through the use of force, fraud or coercion for the purpose of involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage or slavery.
Those trafficked are of all ages, races, ethnicities, nationalities, religions, genders, sexual orientations, socioeconomic backgrounds and citizenship statuses. Traffickers can be anyone, including family members, intimate partners, business owners and community leaders. Trafficking occurs in various industries, such as restaurants, massage parlors, hotels, factories, domestic services, child care, health care and sexually oriented businesses.
The Office of the Attorney General of Texas created the film “Be the One” about preventing, recognizing and reporting human trafficking. In the film, survivors share their experiences and the impacts of human trafficking. Note: The following film contains stories that some viewers may find triggering or upsetting. Viewer discretion is advised.
- Be The One in the Fight Against Human Trafficking Video
- Be The One - ADA Compliant - Visually Impaired Version
- Be The One - ADA Compliant - Audibly Impaired Version
How Do I Identify Human Trafficking in My Practice?
Many trafficked persons interact with the health care system while being trafficked. Health care providers often do not recognize the signs of trafficking or are unsure of how to help. Trafficked persons often do not disclose their situation.
The following lists indicators, or Red flags, to look for when treating your patients.
- Frequent treatment of sexually transmitted infections or injuries
- Multiple unwanted pregnancies
- Fractures or burns
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Skin or respiratory problems caused by exposure to agricultural or other chemicals
- Communicable and non-communicable diseases
- Oral health issues, including broken teeth
- Chronic pain
- Signs of concussions, traumatic brain injuries or unexplained memory loss
- Unwilling to answer questions about their health
- Unable to concentrate or provide basic information including age, address or time
- Gives confusing or contradicting information
- Abuses substances
- Has depression or anxiety
- Appears nervous or avoids eye contact
- Has post-traumatic stress disorder
Other Indicators of Trafficking
- Another person appears to be in control and does not let them answer questions
- Reports a high number of sexual encounters
- Does not have possession of their own identification documents
- Lives in an overcrowded area or at their workplace
- Has tattoos or branding of ownership
- Wears inappropriate clothing for the weather or venue
Learn more about required training for health care practitioners on the Health Care Practitioner Human Trafficking Training page.
What Should I Do if I Suspect a Patient Is Being Trafficked?
If a health care provider suspects their patient is being trafficked, the provider should try to speak with the patient privately without anyone who is accompanying them. Private conversations help to establish trust and allow the patient to share information about their situation in a safe environment. Heath care organizations should establish protocols on responding to human trafficking, including screening methods and questions to ask potential trafficked persons.
Screening Tools for Health Care Practitioners
Commercial Sexual Exploitation-Identification Tool (CSE-IT)
CSE-IT is a research-based screening tool that helps improve early identification of commercially sexually exploited youth. West Coast Children’s Clinic developed this tool, which is currently used in Texas and other states and across various sectors.
Learn more about CSE-IT on the Office of the Texas Governor Child Sex Trafficking Team website and on the West Coast Children's Center website.
Short Child Sex Trafficking Screen for the Health care Setting
Dr. Jordan Greenbaum with The Institute on Healthcare and Human Trafficking developed this validated screening tool for assessing teenagers seeking health care in the United States.
Adult Human Trafficking Screening Tool and Guide
Administration for Children and Families designed this survivor-centered, trauma-informed and culturally appropriate screening tool and guide. It can help health care providers in various sectors assess adult patients or clients for signs of potential exploitation or risk of being exploited.
Learn more about the Adult Human Trafficking Screening Tool and Guide on the U.S. Office on Trafficking In Persons website.
Trafficking Victim Identification Tool and Manual
Vera Institute for Justice developed this tool and manual, which are intended primarily for victim service agency staff and other social service providers who are screening potential adult and child trafficking victims. Law enforcement, health care and shelter workers will also find it helpful in improving trafficking victim identification, especially in conjunction with appropriate training or mentoring.
Learn more and download the tool on the Vera Institute for Justice website.
If You Identify a Clear Concern Your Patient Has Been Trafficked
- Provide medical care.
- Follow mandatory state reporting laws and institutional policies of abuse to a child, elderly person, or person with a disability or reporting that a child is unaccompanied by an adult.
- Follow institutional policies for reporting to law enforcement if the patient is in immediate, life-threatening danger. Whenever possible, try to work with the patient in deciding to contact law enforcement.
- Offer the patient the National Human Trafficking Hotline number, 888-373-7888, and text number, 233733. Encourage them to call if they want help or to talk to someone. If the patient believes it is dangerous to have the numbers written, help them memorize the numbers. A common technique is to break the phone number into smaller segments, such as 888-37-37-888. The text number 233733 spells BeFree.
- Provide the patient with options for services, reporting and resources.
- Include safety planning in the discharge planning process.
- Ensure information regarding the patient's injuries or treatment is fully and accurately documented in the patient's records.
For More Information and Resources
HHSC Provider Guidebook: Services for Victims of Human Trafficking in Texas
The Provider Guidebook lists available services from HHSC and its affiliates. It also serves as a resource for HHSC staff, contractors, providers and stakeholders when supporting those who have experienced human trafficking. The Provider Guidebook provides information about existing HHSC programs and the enrollment process into these programs.
Texas Abuse Hotline
The Department of Family and Protective Services provides the Texas Abuse Hotline website for reporting suspicions of abuse, neglect and exploitation of children, adults with disabilities and people 65 years or older.
Office of the Governor Child Sex Trafficking Team (CSTT)
CSTT coordinates a holistic response to child sex trafficking in Texas. CSTT’s mission is to build sustainable capacity, enhance expertise, promote policies and leverage collaborations to:
- Protect children and youth from sexual exploitation.
- Help the public recognize sexual exploitation.
- Help victims recover.
- Support healing.
- Bring justice to those that exploit children.
Learn more on the Office of the Governor Child Sex Trafficking Team website.
Texas Human Trafficking Prevention Coordinating Council
Created by the Texas Legislature in 2019, this Council works towards effectively and efficiently eradicating human trafficking through the coordination and collaboration of programs, services and state resources.
Learn more on the Texas Human Trafficking Prevention Coordinating Council website.
HEAL Trafficking is an integrated network of over 3,500 survivors and multidisciplinary professionals in 35 countries dedicated to ending human trafficking and supporting its survivors from a public health perspective.
The network provides training materials, guidebooks, speaker opportunities and publications from medical journals and newspapers for health care practitioners.
Learn more and access resources on the HEAL Trafficking website.
HEAL Trafficking and Hope for Justice: Protocol Toolkit for Developing a Response to Victims of Human Trafficking in Health Care Settings
HEAL Trafficking designed this toolkit to help professionals working in health care settings, such as emergency departments, hospitals, clinics, private offices or school-based health centers, develop a protocol to respond to potential human trafficking situations.
Office on Trafficking in Persons (OTIP)
OTIP develops federal anti-trafficking strategies, policies and programs to prevent human trafficking, build health and human service capacity to respond to human trafficking, increase victim identification and access to services, and strengthen health and well-being outcomes of trafficking survivors.
Office for Victims of Crime (OVC)
OVC assists crime victims by providing leadership and funding on behalf of crime victims. OVC strengthens the victim service response to human trafficking through grant funding, training and technical assistance, and leadership in the field.
Polaris serves victims and survivors through the National Human Trafficking Hotline. It also builds a dataset that illuminates how human trafficking works, in real-time, and turns knowledge into targeted systems-level strategies to disrupt and prevent human trafficking.
For information on human trafficking training, technical assistance and resources, email the Texas Human Trafficking Resource Center.
Report Human Trafficking
National Human Trafficking Hotline accepts anonymous tips:
- Call: 1-888-373-7888 (TTY: 711)
- Text: 233733
- National Human Trafficking Hotline website