January is designated National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month and the Michigan State Police want people to be aware of warning signs before someone becomes a victim.

Michigan State Police say victims are tricked into trafficking by someone they know and trust which can lead to drug addiction. Boys and girls as young as 12 to 13 are at risk for trafficking, along with those with disabilities.

MSP suggest parents talk to their teens about their relationships and dangers of the internet saying anyone can become a victim. As part of the efforts to combat human trafficking, MSP have conducted sting operations throughout the state.

They encourage people to watch for signs of human trafficking and report them. Some warning signs include:

- Unexplained absences from school
- Inability to attend school on a regular basis
- Chronically runs away from home
- Makes references to frequent travels to other cities
- Sudden changes in behavior or material possessions
- Makes reference to sexual situations that are beyond age-specific norms
- Drug addictions
- Injuries or signs of physical abuse
- Appears malnourished
- Seems disoriented
- Has few personal possessions; May wear same clothes for several days, regardless of weather
- No identification or proper documents
- Avoids eye contact
- Fearful of authority figures
- Can't come and go independently
Nationally there were 5,147 reported cases of human trafficking in 2018. Traffickers use force, fraud or coercion to lure their victims and force them into labor or commercial sexual exploitation.

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