Young people from our own cities are being exploited through human trafficking, and many are from stable, well-educated families.

What is Human Trafficking?

Human trafficking is the illegal recruitment, transportation or hiding of someone for the purpose of exploiting them. Human trafficking includes labour and prostitution. Prostitution on the streets is known as 'the game'.

How Victims are Recruited and Exploited

Canadian young people are extremely vulnerable to becoming victims of trafficking, averaging 13-21 in age.

Despite stereotypes, human traffickers can be men or women and are often known as pimps or madams. Traffickers control victims by using violence and other methods of influence, such as intimidation and threats to the person's safety or the safety of family members.

Grooming Stage

Grooming is a common form of recruitment. Traffickers build a relationship with the young person by pretending to be their friend, boyfriend or girlfriend. They will then build trust with the victim by showering them with compliments, buying them expensive items and telling him/her that they love them. People can be approached for grooming and not even realize it. It can happen at the mall, shopping centres, clubs, bars, etc.

Warning Signs

  • Isolation from family and friends.

  • More than one cell phone.

  • The person is always being monitored or controlled by someone else.

  • Stockholm syndrome (protective of the new boyfriend or girlfriend).

  • The person is always being moved, usually from hotel to hotel.

  • Carrying of condoms or sexual aids.

  • Drug use.

  • The person does not carry any form of identification with them.

  • Visible signs of scarring/tattoos (known as branding).

Please note: possible signs mentioned above are indicators to watch for, but does not confirm the person is involved in prostitution/forced labour.

Preventative Tips for Parents and Guardians

  • Stay informed about your child's social and school life.

  • Talk to your child about inappropriate requests from people they do not know.

  • Make the effort to know the people/friends involved with your child (not just their nicknames).

  • Monitor their social media accounts and set rules for their online activity.

  • Stay current with apps and social sites your child is using.

  • Educate your child on healthy social and romantic relationships and how to identify abusive ones.

Are you Being Targeted or Exploited?

Traffickers use, abuse and control their victims. The key is to spot warning signs and seek help before it starts. Victims often have a fear of police, especially if they aren't Canadian citizens. Victims can trust the police and seek their help if they ever feel they are in danger.

You may become or already be a victim of human trafficking if you answer yes to any of these questions:

  • Is anyone controlling your freedom of movement?
  • Is someone denying you access to your passport or travel documents?
  • Is anyone telling you to perform sex acts?
  • Is anyone forcing you to work for no or very little money?
  • Are you forced to work long hours without proper breaks?

If you or someone you know answers yes to any of these questions, contact our non-emergency line or Peel Crime Stoppers.


In the case of an emergency, call 9-1-1.

After the police have been contacted, information will be provided to make arrangements with Victim Services of Peel.

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