What is Trafficking in Persons (TIP)?

To Report TIP, contact: 

 Blue Corded Phone

 Dept of Defense Inspector General Hotline;




    Red corded Phone

National Human Trafficking Hotline;


TIP is the use of force, fraud, or coercion to compel persons to provide labor or services or commercial sex. TIP involves exploitation of all types. TIP can include elements of recruiting, harboring, transporting, providing, or obtaining a person for the purpose of exploitation. The three most common forms of trafficking are: 1) Labor Trafficking, 2) Sex Trafficking and 3) Child Soldiering.

1)  Labor Trafficking

  • Labor or service compelled by force, fraud, or coercion
  • Debt bondage: using debt to compel labor from another person
  • Victims are found in any location or industry: factories, farms, construction, restaurants, mines, or personal homes
  • Children are also labor trafficking victims
  • Forced labor generates an estimated $51.2 billion per year

Source: United Nations, International Labour Organization, Department of State

Forced labor, also referred to as labor trafficking, encompasses the range of activities -- recruiting, harboring, transporting, providing, or obtaining -- involved when a person used force or physical threats, psychological coercion, abuse of legal processes, deception, or other coercive means to compel someone to work. Once a person's labor is exploited by such means, the person's prior consent to work for an employer is legally irrelevant: the employer is a trafficker and the employee is a trafficking victim. Migrants are particularly vulnerable to this form of human trafficking, but individuals also may be forced into labor in their own countries. Female victims of forced or bonded labor, especially women and girls in domestic servitude, are often sexually exploited as well.

Courtesy of the Department of State

2)  Sex Trafficking

  • Commercial sex compelled by force, fraud, or coercion
  • Victims have been found in brothels, street prostitution, escort services, strip clubs, and in the pornography industry
  • Child sex tourism: traveling to countries to have sex with children
  • An estimated $99 billion are generated by commercial sexual exploitation exacted by fraud or force per year

Source: United Nations, International Labour Organizations, Department of State

When an adult engages in a commercial sex act, such as prostitution, as a result of force, threats of force, fraud, coercion, or any combination of such means, that person is a victim of trafficking. Under circumstances, perpetrators involved in recruiting, harboring, enticing, transporting, providing, obtaining, patronizing, soliciting, or maintaining a person for that purpose are guilty of sex trafficking of an adult. When a child (under 18 years of age) is recruited, enticed, harbored, transported, provided, obtained, patronized, solicited, or maintained to perform a commercial sex act, proving force, fraud, or coercion is not necessary for the offense to be characterized as human trafficking.

Courtesy of the Department of State

3)  Child Soldiering

  • Unlawful recruitment of children under 18 by government or government armed forces
  • Children are used as combatants, cooks, servants, messengers, spies, or sex slaves
  • Children are often sexually and physically abused
  • Children are forced to commit atrocities against others
  • 200,000 - 300,000 children in over 57 armed conflicts worldwide
  • Average age: 15 - 18, but as young as 7

Source: United Nations, Department of State

Child soldiering is a manifestation of human trafficking when it involves the unlawful recruitment or use of children -- through force, fraud, or coercion -- by armed forces as combatants or for other forms of labor. Some child soldiers are sexually exploited by armed groups. Perpetrators may be government armed forces, paramilitary organizations, or rebel groups. Many children are forcibly abducted to be used as combatants. Others are made to work as porters, cooks, guards, servants, messengers, or spies. Young girls can be forced to marry or have sex with commanders and male combatants. Both male and female child soldiers are often sexually abused.

Courtesy of the Department of State

* The lists above are not exhaustive; rather, they are select lists of examples seen around the world, including in the United States.