Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work


School of Social Work

First Reader/Committee Chair

Dr. Janet Chang


Human trafficking of adolescents is estimated to be a multi-billion dollar industry in the United States and adolescents (ages12-18) are at a high risk for being the victims of human trafficking and being sexually exploited during the process of human trafficking. Social workers are ones of the human services practitioners who often encounter potential or actual victims of human trafficking in their social work practice. Thus, it is very important for social workers to be able to identify, intervene, and advocate for this population. The purpose of this study was to examine social workers’ knowledge about human trafficking and their awareness to identify human trafficking of young women and adolescents in the cities of San Bernardino and Riverside.

The study utilized a survey questionnaire design with the use of online software, Qualtrics. Data were collected from 30 social workers who belonged to the National Association of Social Workers, Region F. Participants were asked of their knowledge and awareness about human trafficking and some demographic variables. Descriptive and inferential statistics were used to analyze the data collected.

Participants in the study indicated various levels of knowledge regarding human trafficking, with 80% of the participants identifying forced labor or forced prostitution as a major part of human trafficking. Just over half of participants (53.3%) indicated that young children were not the most trafficked persons in San Bernardino and Riverside counties. The study also found that there was an ethnicity difference in the level of knowledge about human trafficking. White participants were likely to have more knowledge about human trafficking than those of other ethnicities.

In order to have better understanding of this crime, and to be better able to detect, and identify these victims, the findings of the study suggest that social workers need to increase their knowledge about human trafficking, as well as their skills to better build rapport, and trust. Another recommendation is that more training, and advanced comprehensive education should be provided to social workers to increase their knowledge, awareness about human trafficking, competence, and effectiveness.