Youth Recruitment of Trafficking Victims


What is Youth Recruitment?

Youth who are already in a trafficking situation may be used to recruit other youth into trafficking. This can happen through befriending on the internet, in school or school groups, and while youth receive services from the same program or live in the same child welfare or residential program.  Organizations and programs who serve vulnerable youth and victims and survivors of trafficking should consider the following strategies to handle youth recruitment.


Some general safety measures implemented by programs to limit recruitment include:

  • Locating the program away from areas known for street prostitution;  
  • Building relationships with local law enforcement to address current or future safety concerns;
  • Maintaining confidential locations with unpublished addresses and unmarked buildings;
  • Gating or enclosing the property;  
  • Maintaining 24-hour staff;
  • Installing security monitoring systems;
  • Allowing youth only limited internet access;
  • Screening phone calls and limiting the cell phone use of clients; and
  • Locking entrance doors to the facility and requiring all visitors to be screened.


The following are strategies programs should employ to respond to recruitment:

  • When a youth is suspected of trying to recruit another client, staff members should not allow them to be alone with others in the program.
  • Clients who are consistently causing safety concerns (including recruitment) should be considered for removal from the program and served elsewhere, either in another program or in the community.


Preventative measures to avoid recruitment in programming include:

  • Separating youth based on stage of recovery in order to prevent those who are most vulnerable to recruitment from being victimized by youth who are not yet engaged in services or ready to leave their situation;
  • Explain to youth upon entrance to program that there is zero tolerance for recruiting;
  • Hang posters that indicate zero tolerance for recruiting;
  • Educating all youth in programming about the trafficking and CSEC; and  

Educating parents and other caregivers of youth about CSEC and trafficking, what steps to take if they suspect a youth is being exploited, and how to prevent the victimization of youth.

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