C. Risk Factors and Indicators

Children and youth who run away or experience foster care are at a higher risk of commercial sexual exploitation.[234] According to the Office of the Texas Attorney General, potential indicators (or “red flags”) that a child may be a trafficking victim include:

•   Changes in school attendance, habits, friend groups, vocabulary, demeanor, and attitude;

•   Sudden appearance of luxury items — e.g., manicures, designer clothes, purses;

•   Truancy (absence) from school;

•   Sexually provocative clothing;

•   Tattoos or branding;

•   Refillable gift cards;

•   Multiple phones or social media accounts;

•   Lying about the existence of social media accounts;

•   Provocative pictures posted online or stored on the phone;

•   Unexplained injuries;

•   Social interaction and schedule being strictly controlled by someone else; and/or

•   Isolation from family, friends, and community.[235]

Special Issue: The availability of the internet means trafficking can happen anywhere. Traffickers often use the web to recruit and exploit child victims. Teaching youth in foster care about internet safety is a critical part of any effort to prevent and address human trafficking.