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How can you tell whether a child may be trafficked?

This is a very difficult question to answer because there is no typical child victim but there are signs which may indicate that a child is a victim of trafficking. The NSPCC has provided a very useful list which may help in identification.

Signs that a child may be trafficked

Common signs include a child who:

  • Spends a lot of time doing household chores
  • Rarely leaves their house, has no freedom of movement and no time for playing
  • Is orphaned or living apart from their family, often in unregulated private foster care lives in substandard accommodation
  • Isn’t sure which country, city or town they’re in
  • Is unable or reluctant to give details of accommodation or personal details
  • Might not be registered with a school or a GP practice
  • Has no documents or has falsified documents
  • Has no access to their parents or guardians
  • Is seen in inappropriate places such as brothels or factories
  • Possesses unaccounted for money or goods
  • Is permanently deprived of a large part of their earnings, required to earn a minimum amount of money every day or pay off an exorbitant debt
  • Has injuries from workplace accidents
  • Gives a prepared story which is very similar to stories given by other children.

Signs an adult is involved in child trafficking

There are also signs that an adult is involved in child trafficking, such as:

  • Making multiple visa applications for different children
  • Acting as a guarantor for multiple visa applications for children
  • Travelling with different children who they are not related to or responsible for
  • Insisting on remaining with and speaking for the child
  • Living with unrelated or newly arrived children
  • Abandoning a child or claiming not to know a child they were previously with.

Who can you contact if you are worried about a child who may have been trafficked?

If you are worried about a child there are a number of organisations that you can contact for advice and help. Some of these are:



Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre

Refugee Council (Children’s Section).

Modern Slavery Helpline

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